Hope

Last week, we were hopefully encouraged by this truth about God:

Psalm 119:68

You are good, and what you do is good

God’s goodness is so good that even when we face things that are not in and of themselves good, God can work them together for good.  Only God can bring life from death, beauty from ashes, comfort in mourning, and joy for despair.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God’s goodness isn’t just something that we can intellectually know to be true, we can experience by knowing God through relationship.

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Being confident and fully convinced that God is good and that all that He does is good and that He can even work the bad in our lives things for good gives us hope.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, hope as a noun is desire accompanied by expectation of fulfillment.  Hope as a verb is to expect with confidence.

When it comes to Biblical hope, this desire that is accompanied by confident expectation is in the fulfillment of God’s promises, which are always good.  We desire and confidently expect the goodness of God to manifest itself through the promises that He has made.

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Hope is like the placeholder for God’s promises.  When there is some area of lack or a need in our lives, we look to God’s word for a promise to fulfill it.  Until we receive that promise, hope fills the void as we stand firmly on God’s word.

Romans 8:24-25

24 …But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

What causes us to despair and to be filled with worry and anxiety isn’t really the need or the lack in our lives, but when we do not possess hope.  When we stop confidently expecting the fulfillment of God’s good promises, then doubt gains a foothold and begins to steal away our confidence and trust in the Lord.

Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

The Hebrew word for deferred means to lift out, to lead along, or to drag out.  The greatest test of our trust in the Lord, the greatest enemy of hope is time.  The longer that we await the fulfillment of God’s promises, the more that hope is tested.  Patience has less to do with how long we have to wait and far more about how we behave while we wait.

Our family recently visited a Family Dollar store and we found ourselves in a long line being caused by the person at the checkout paying with a lot of change.  It was interesting to observe the behavior of those having to patiently wait.  A few were looking at their cell phones and seemed to be indifferent toward the wait.  A few looked on with concern and compassion on the one checking out.  One guy was clearly upset and kept huffing and puffing and making irritated hand gestures.  When the line finally moved, he loudly said, “Wow, it’s about time!”

To wait patiently on the Lord for what we hope for is to be like the compassionate in line.  We don’t think about our own needs, but look for ways to serve and to honor others.  After all, we confidently know that the Lord will take care of us. 

John Waller wrote a song and the lyrics embody what this looks like as he sings:

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord

And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord

Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord

Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident

Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You

While I’m waiting I will worship

While I’m waiting I will not faint

I’ll be running the race even while I wait

Interestingly, the Hebrew word used for deferred is the same word used when Joseph’s brothers drew him up out of the pit to sell him to the Midianite merchants.  The enemy wants hope deferred to lift us out, lead us along, and drag us out to our destruction.  God desires that same time to build and grow our hope and trust in Him.

Like Joseph, we should choose to put our lives in God’s hands and trust Him through all of the pain and suffering that we go through in life.  Even though that drawing up out of the pit lead Joseph to many more wrongs done to him, it also eventually lead to very good things.  When given the opportunity to get revenge on his brothers, Joseph said:

Genesis 50:19-20

19 … “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Hope is what enables us to endure times and seasons of uncertainty and suffering along the path to our destiny of fulfilled promises; experiencing the goodness of God!  Hope is how Joseph went from receiving a dream from God of his destiny to a pit to slavery to managing a household to jail and finally to second in command over Egypt and experiencing the fulfillment of the dream given to him years beforehand.

When we receive a word from God and everything in our lives is looking far from what that word said and we don’t see how it could possibly come to pass, that is the place of hope.  There may be suffering and pain along the path, but we must not give up in that place!

From what we read from cover to cover of God’s word, we find that often, it was in a state of complete and utter impossibility when great men and women of faith’s hope came to fruition.  It was when all could clearly see that it could only be God through the miraculous that their hopes were fulfilled.  That is how miracles serve as signs to point people to Jesus.

Joseph’s brothers drew him up out and lead him out into slavery, but God is drawing us up and leading us out into freedom!  God is drawing us through the difficult times and the suffering into our destiny where we reign victorious over them all! 

Jesus pioneered a way for us and now calls us to, in hope, follow Him.  We may bear our cross for part of the journey, but the resurrection power within us gives us hope for the glorious future that awaits us!

Romans 5:1-5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we (let us) have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we (let us) boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we (let us) also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

We have hope because we know that God is already there in our future and we can be confident that where He is leading us is into His goodness and that even our temporary suffering is somehow going to end well.

Another reminder from last week from David:

Psalm 27:13 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.

Do we believe this?  Is our hope in Christ?  Are we confidently expecting to encounter the goodness of God?  Is our hope in Christ?  Is our trust steadfast in God’s promises no matter what comes our way?

Paul wrote to stir up such hope in God’s people when it was being shaken:

Hebrews 6:9-20

9 …dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

While we’re waiting, we will refuse to defer our hope.  While we are waiting, we will let hope arise!  Our hope is an anchor for our souls firmly and securely connecting our hearts straight to Jesus. 

We refuse to look back and we refuse to allow the impossibilities and opposition to sow doubt into our souls.  When we stumble and fall, we’ll grab hold of that rope of hope and use it to pull ourselves right back up!  We look forward and upward straight to Jesus who is calling us.  He is the One who made the promise and He is the One who will faithfully fulfill it!

We refuse to lose heart and to allow our hope be stolen!  We walk in confidence that we will see the goodness of the Lord here in the land of the living!  In Christ alone, our living hope, will we place all of our trust and confidence!