Depression knocked on my door recently, but I refused to answer. It was tough, though. Who wouldn’t be depressed if a tiny team upset your favorite college team and if–it’s hard to think of it–the mighty Cowboys crashed and burned. All in one weekend.
What’s left to live for? A friend who is crowding 70 laments, “My life is winding down. Don’t believe I’ll live much past 100, giving me another 30 years or so. My point is that I don’t believe I’ll get to see the Cowboys in another Super Bowl.”
I’m quitting football and I’m going to start watching professional wrestling.
If your team wins, hope smiles pulling you forward in a warm cocoon of anticipation. If they lose, you languish in a gray prison. If you see progress towards your goal, “Yippee!” If not, “Oh me!”
Often at the beginning of the year, I ask the Lord for a word, something to work on during the year. In 2018 the word is “hope.”
Old Men and Hope
Hope lights you up while you move towards what you want. You know what my problem is, though? I don’t always know what I want. Or maybe, I’ve wanted some things so long, that hope withered on the vine.
Then I look at old man Abraham, “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4, NIV)
Hope keeps us walking when our destination is no where in site. Hope envigorates sagging muscles and dreams.
God is a God of hope. He floods us with hope so joy and peace spring from the fountain of our life.
“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Romans 15:13, The Message)
How Is Your Hope Level?
Maybe you feel like that old John Denver song, “You dun stomped on my heart and you mashed that sucker flat. You just sorta stomped on my aorta.”
Is the hope gauge on the dashboard of your life flashing red? Marriage tasting sour? Health still sickly after hundreds of prayers? Job boring and dead-end with a boss who must be distantly related to Adolph Hitler? Maybe you are the crazy boss and wonder what it takes to get this bunch of thumb-suckers to listen?
Are you walking zombie-like through the world, living, but dead on the inside?
Why don’t you become intentional about hope? Make up your mind. Don’t wait to be zapped but stand up and go for it.
1. Decide what you’re are going to look at. Are your eyes glued to what you don’t have? Are you tied to what hurts you. Look up!
“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalms 31: 18, 18, NIV)
2. Let God fill you to overflowing with His Spirit. “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 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.” (Romans 5:3, 4 NIV) Get before God and pester Him until He fills you.
3. Eat the Word like you would devour a good beef steak (or an oatmeal cookie). There’s hope and joy if you’ll read and meditate on it with faith. Put what you learn into practice. « For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4, NIV)
4. Eternal salvation in and through the Lord Jesus Christ motivates us. “…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.” (Hebrews 6:18, 19 NIV)
When I’m hopeless, I’ve generally forgotten that my goals down here, what I want in this life, isn’t all there is. Out of my relationship with Jesus, I’m trying to pile up eternal treasure, remembering that this world is just a breath compared to the hurricane of joy and hope that God’s prepared for us. That’s it, you see. Hope is not just for this life. Paul told us that three things endure eternally: faith, hope and love.
In God’s eternal Kingdom, we’ll enjoy the moment and look forward to the next one forever and ever. That’s called hope.
“Questions are powerful tools. They can ignite hope and lead to new insights. They can also destroy hope and keep us struck in bad assumptions.
The key is to be intentional and choose our questions well. If you want to change the results you are getting, you must change your thinking.
Everything—everything!—starts there.” Michael Hyatt