HOPE for Real – Pt. 2
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.
Thank you, Anne. I’ve been impressed with how strongly anchored to Jesus, and thus how HOPEFUL, Christians from previous generations were in the face of really difficult circumstances. They probably grew into HOPE through suffering and endurance as Romans 5 says. Hope has to be anchored deeply in the goodness and strength and character of God and when I begin to doubt his goodness, or his ability to overcome, then I lose my hope. I love your reminder that when I find my hope waning, the way back is NOT to try to convince myself that everything will be okay….but to dive into the truth of who God is…and remember how he has been faithful, and find my HOPE in him and in knowing that because he is good and he is strong, then I know that in the future, all will be okay. I may go through really tough circumstances but he goes with me, and one day it will all be okay.
Thanks so much Luann – I so appreciate and resonate with your words here!
Thanks so much for these reflections and contemplations, Anne! I’ve really appreciated your digging out what hope is, where it is found, and how we can experience it. One of my favorite considerations about “hope” is that it is mentioned within the context of the Ap. Paul’s discussion on spiritual gifts in 1 Cors. 13. In v 13 he declares, “So now fatih, HOPE, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” The fact that hope “abides” or dwells with us His children as a spiritual gift of God and His presence with us is so rich, and ties in profoundly with your reminder that we need to be aware of our “perceptions” concerning God’s unassailable promise in Christ that He will “never leave us or forsake us.” Puts me in mind of the blessed old hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness…” Such a blessed assurance is ours in Christ, though hell itself come against us, PTL! Thanks, again, for sitrring up these wonderful considerations and truths today.
I’m so grateful for your words Randall… Thanks for extending the eternal thread of this conversation! We really barely tap into the storehouse of riches that are ours in Christ! But the pursuit is a blast! Thanking God anew for the gift that HOPE is!
Yes, Anne, the world is so so desperate for HOPE! So for those of us who have His HOPE, why would we not share in abundance what only He can provide! Let’s ignite the flames of His Love and show the world that there is True Hope in Christ!
Thanks Les, and AMEN!!