I had a rough weekend.
Eyes on self and my “problems,” there was no sunlight in my world and no breath of fresh air. Not that friends didn’t try to help, but I didn’t FEEL anything but despair, hopelessness, and the utter pointlessness of walking another step in a seemingly endless monotony of useless days.
“Have you lost hope?” my friends asked me. “Hope for what? Hope in what?” I was (am) confident of my salvation, but of any other bright spot in life, nothing. So what’s the point of continuing to breathe?
The World tends to take a very dim view of hope. Any person who’s had to interact with it for an extended period of time can tell you plainly that if you cherish dreams, and I mean, really believe them—dreams like today will be better, someday you’ll find true love, or you can make a difference in the world—you will be made fun of. There’s no room out there in the “real world” for naïve fantasies and Pollyanna smiles.
“Time to grow up kid. This is the real world.”
The World would have us believe that the more of life we experience, the more “reality” sets in, the clearer our vision for what is and must be. The best way, the World says, to protect yourself from being hurt is to have no hopes at all; only when armored with disillusionment and hiding behind a shield of cynicism, can you survive to fight another day.
But Scripture says otherwise in Romans 5:
“1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: “2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in HOPE of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, HOPE: 5And HOPE maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Emphasis mine.)
What is Paul saying here? Because of Christ’s work, we have access to hope—we positively revel and rejoice—in the hope we have of one day being the perfect reflection of Himself that God intended us to be. We can also rejoice in the hard and painful things that happen here on earth, because it’s God’s loving hand teaching us patience. Patience, in turn, gives us experience—we know that what He has promised, He will do—and what does that experience give us? Cynicism? No! It gives us HOPE!
As Christians, our experiences of the World, when transformed by the Father’s hand, do not make us bitter, cynical, fearful, disillusioned, vindictive people, but beacons of hope. And the World may laugh at us, but what does verse five say? “Hope maketh not ashamed, because the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts…” It’s not naïve to wake up with hope for the new day. Our hope “springs eternal” because it flows like a fountain from the work of God’s love in our lives.
Remember, there are two forms of the word hope (www.ninjawords.com). The verb form is what people tend to lump in with ridiculousness: “to want something to happen.” We all know that just because we want it to happen is far from guaranteeing that it will.
The noun form, however, is a bit different: “the belief or expectation that something wished for can or will happen.”
When we hope in God, we don’t simply have a “wanting” for something to happen. We are holding in our hearts a tangible reality—a belief or expectation that something wished for can and (not just or) WILL happen in His good time, according to His good plan, by His good will.
I close with another passage from Romans 8, “24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
Hope gives strength to carry on, to finish that marathon, to carry that burden one more day, to try one more time.
My hope is in Christ. I am saved by hope.