Sometimes I ask the Lord for a word for my life for the new year. Some years ago, it was, “thanksgiving.” So, for several months I was intentional about making thanksgiving a big part of my life.
Another time the word was, “trust.”
I wanted to reuse “thanksgiving” for 2018 but the word, “hope,” kept intruding. So “hope” it is for 2018.
We’ve downgraded “hope.” A friend who loves the outdoors says, “I hope I catch some fish today.” But, there’s always a question. I’ve come home from a lot of “hope so” fishing trips muttering to myself, smelling more of fish bait than fish.
But the hope that comes from God is a direct result of faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” You can’t have one without the other.
When I’ve got hope, I do my best. It pulls me forward. When hope flees, all color washes out of my life and I go through the motions.
One day I was visiting a mental hospital in Luxembourg. As I talked with my friend and saw observed other patients, I realized that there was probably less hope per square inch in that place, than anywhere else in the country.
Something snaps when we lose hope.
Once during our ministry in Europe, I went through a trial that squeezed the last drop of hope from me. Prayer time became “thinking about my problems” time. The oppression weighed heavier and heavier until one day something snapped inside. It was like a light bulb went out. I didn’t feel bad or good.
All my dreams were replaced by … nothing.
A couple of things happened to help me heal—a brother that I esteemed highly called me from the States to encourage me. A friend who was pastoring in Belgium called and said, “In the meeting this morning as I thought about you I could only cry and pray. I hardly ever cry. What is it?”
Later, I was at a conference and during the afternoon message God dropped a grain of hope in my heart. Then that night He renewed me by His Spirit.
I tottered on the edge and nearly fell back into the pit a few times. Healing was a process—change, forgiveness, recommitment to the Lord, confessing my sinful attitudes.
But, during this whole trial one of the scariest things was when I lost hope. How about you? Did hope slip out the door with that person who left? Did fear rush into the void when you lost that dream job?
Loss … dreams, health, loved ones, and a hundred other things … can obliterate hope in our life.
There Is Hope
We say, “God is love,” and we’re right but God is also hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
–This God of hope responds to our trust in Him by filling us with joy and peace.
–We overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(There’s something to be said for praying in the Holy Spirit. We edify ourselves.)
–The Word of God gives hope. Rom. 15:4
–Our brothers and sisters boost our hope. Someone shared the other night that each time a man smokes a cigarette he pays with seven minutes of his life, according to what he read.
Glen noted that some people were like that: when you’re around them you seem to lose seven minutes off your life. But, he added that others seem to add seven minutes to your life when you’re with them.”
I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know that some people add a ton of value to my life and some people are “hope suckers.” I know which one I want to be, don’t you?
—Hanging in there in trials sprouts hope from us. Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) 3 Not only so, but we 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.
—Keeping my eyes on what is good gives me hope.
What if I constantly looked at a succession of pictures, pouring over each detail—survivors of an atomic bomb blast, a man with leprosy, a woman in the hospital in the last stages of cancer, etc. Over and over …
The movie you play in your mind all day either pumps hope through your system or rots your bones. Will you be thankful or entitled? Will you praise or bellyache?
–Remembering our real goal engenders hope. Eternal life with the Lord Jesus awaits His people! This isn’t heaven! Our main hope is Jesus. He won’t let us fall, “But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” (Psalm 9:18)
—We press through to hope. We pray through! We’re intentional about it.
What’s your word for this year? If you don’t know I’ll loan you mine. Let’s go after hope.