For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my HOPE is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
I’m pretty sure that HOPE is a commodity I have not seen for the true RICH (and possibly rare) thing that it is. If it is hewn as the Apostle Paul suggests in his letter to the saints in Rome, it comes by rugged means. But the thing is, I can’t live without it… and neither can you. And it’s not just HOPE we’re talking about. It’s mainly about the object of that HOPE. Christians (Christ Ones) HOPE in God.
The pursuit of HOPE is ultimately about the development of relationship with God. Whether that development comes through the refinement of my inner person, or whether is comes from time spent with God in His Word, I can expect HOPE to surface as the invaluable undergirding that God intends for it to be.
HOPE is described as an anchor for my soul, (Hebrews 6:19). It is sure and steadfast because it is attached to Someone who is sure and steadfast. I don’t HOPE in HOPE, I HOPE in God, so it’s not the anchor that is the windfall but the One it’s attached to. My soul anchors to God because He is the singular reliable attachment. It’s what the writer of Psalm 62 is stating as he talks to his soul.
When I feel HOPE waning, it’s NOT because the anchor has detached and I’m adrift. But my perception has shifted so that it seems as if I’m no longer attached. That can and does happen for so many reasons, but it can’t be overstated: God never severs my attachment to Him. This helps me understand why Believers through the ages have had to talk to their souls… to remind themselves of what is true.
But sometimes despair is overwhelmingly present so that my efforts to waken my own soul will fail. It’s at that point that healthy, Christ centered community becomes especially essential. I have come to terms with the fact there will be gaps in the percieved presence of HOPE in me. That’s a far less scary proposition when my brothers and sisters in the Lord are at the ready to hope all things (1 Corinthians 13:7) on my behalf. It also compels me to make sure I am ready to offer HOPE to anyone at any time.
So what is this rugged, non-negotiable path to becoming a person of HOPE? Both of these broad thoughts have their roots in relationship. This is what I’ve been learning:
Hope emerges out of the pursuit of God through His Word –
HOPE comes through “the encouragement of the Scriptures,” (Romans 15:4). If I’m going to be a person of HOPE I must be committed to the diligent pursuit of God through His Word (non-optional). The Psalmist says, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope, (Psalm 130:5). This thread runs throughout Psalm 119 as well. Here HOPE manifests naturally as the roots of my relationship with God deepen through ongoing fellowship with Him in His Word. The more I experience Him, the more confident I am that He is entirely reliable. That translates into HOPE.
Hope emerges out of deep personal refinement –
HOPE is the final manifestation of this formidable sequence found in Romans 5:3-4:
Suffering (which begets…)
Endurance (which begets…)
Character (which begets…)
Each is a predecessor to the next, necessary before what follows can manifest. I’ve had a mental playlist of this sequence on “repeat” for several weeks now. Each time I come ‘round to HOPE, I get a little flush. Why do you imagine HOPE shows up after the previous three traits have their full affect?
I can’t help thinking – There’s only one reason a person could end up displaying Godly character, and that is that God Himself would have been present to carve and craft him or her (apparently through the portals of suffering and endurance). If you were that person, wouldn’t you have come to know God pretty well through that lengthy process? And isn’t it reasonable to think that after you had traversed the valleys of surrender and submission and the abdication of your will to Gods (which you would have to do before character could emerge), the roots of your relationship with the Lord would be extremely deep? So why wouldn’t HOPE surface in the aftermath of that kind of intimate journey? Something would be wrong if it didn’t.
This is a massive conversation – but here’s where I’m landing for the moment. People who manifest the HOPE that the book of Romans speaks of know God intimately. They enjoy true abiding fellowship with Him. They practice His presence with openness to His pervasive influence in them, and they pursue Him with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength. They are so sure of His character that even the storms of life do not cloud their perception of His goodness and ultimate control of all things. And when those moments come when HOPE wanes for them, somewhere in their soul is stored a lifetime of memories of the faithfulness of their God. When HOPE returns, they become ever stronger. I want THAT. And yet if I’m honest, I’m also afraid of the path to getting what I want.
Where to from here, my brothers and sisters? You and I are supposed to be poised to at any moment “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” (1 Peter 3:15). The world is desperate for HOPE. The source of HOPE is our Father. Please Father, give us courage to pursue You relentlessly. Shape us into the men and women You would have us be. Build our faith and trust in You as we take our place and remain in your presence… until HOPE abounds!
May the God of HOPE fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit
you may abound in HOPE.