Hope. We need it.
It’s defined as a feeling of expectation, a desire for a certain thing to happen, or a feeling of trust.
We’re living in a time where things are uncertain. People are fearful of what tomorrow might bring. They are anxious, panicked, and their thoughts are weighed down with negative thinking. They are hoping things will change, but uncertain if or when they might.
For Christians, hope is more than a feeling. It is a confident expectation that what God has promised, He will do. We aren’t hoping things will change, we have a confident expectation in a God who can intervene. In fact, we are actively seeking Him and praying He will.
Yet, here is where we get messed up sometimes. We tend to assume if we ask, if we desire a change, God will step in and do it for us right away.
It doesn’t always work like that, though. God is not our genie in a bottle. He is the Sovereign, reigning Lord. He has way more knowledge and insight into all that is going on in our world, and our lives, than we do. We may truly desire change, but often that desire from us for change hinges on the fact that we don’t like difficulties of suffering.
Then, when God doesn’t step in and do what we have asked, we lose hope quickly. Our confident expectation has turned out to be a fleeting feeling.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “And not only this, but we exult (or rejoice) in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance (endurance/persistence); and perseverance proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
This passage reminds me of James 1:2-4.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Regardless of what’s going on in our world, we can have real hope. Not a fleeting feeling (which consequently would equal a failing feeling). If we belong to Christ we have hope that His promises are true. He cannot lie. He will not fail.
We can pray for the virus ravaging our world to end, people to be made well, for our family, friends, and essential workers to be kept from harm. We can pray that our leaders on the local, state, and national levels will have wisdom, and that fear, panic, and anxiety will cease. Or the change we seek may be more personal – overcoming depression, making connections, overcoming sinful patterns of coping during difficult times…
In fact, we should be praying for those things. Like all things that have been difficult throughout history, we know this will eventually come to an end.
The truth is, God is STILL in control. We can have hope in Him. Even if we find ourselves questioning what He is doing, it doesn’t change His sovereignty over our circumstances.
We can also have hope (confident expectation!) in God, that the hard times we are facing is working in our lives for a far greater purpose. And honestly, that is difficult to see when you are in the midst of it. Impossible almost.
Like many of you, I have family members that are out of work. And still others I know concerned about paying bills and feeding their families. It’s very difficult to see a greater purpose, much less believe there is one, when you are in the midst of a truly difficult situation. Yet, that is what the Scriptures tell us to do.
That doesn’t negate the pain or suffering we might be facing. That doesn’t dilute the fear, anxiety, or depression we might be going through. Those are real and valid feelings. However, we can’t hang on to those feelings and expect to endure through our difficulties. (And honestly, that is not a message we like to hear!) No one likes trials or sufferings on any level but we always have to go back to what Scripture says.
Romans 5:3-5 says that tribulations bring about perseverance (endurance or persistence). James 1:2-4 tells us the same thing. The hard times help us learn to endure and remain strong. Then, this endurance builds our Christian character. And finally, that character produces hope. In fact, it says we rejoice in those hard times because of what they produce in us. We don’t rejoice in the pain, we rejoice in the after effect. It produces not just solid Christian character, but lasting hope.
This message isn’t just for you…it’s for me. I need to remind myself. I need to preach the Word to myself.
We have to keep persisting, keep enduring, through all the difficulties. Don’t give up! It will make you stronger! It will build your faith. God has not forgotten you, He is building you. He is building you for kingdom work.
As believers, God wants to use us to minister to other. But, think about it. How can we minister if we haven’t stood under the pressure ourselves? How can we direct another to the hope within us if we seem to have no hope?
See, out of the messes of this world, God brings ministry.
We have the perfect opportunity in this time to minster to so many. It’s not just my family, or your family, going through this. It’s the entire world! And the sphere of influence you have is unique from anyone else’s.
So, be encouraged! Our hope is in something greater than our current situation, current economy, current health, or any current life circumstance that causes us concern. Our hope is in a God who is faithful. A God who cannot fail. A God who is sovereign over all things. A God who is using this time to shape you and mold you to be a usable vessel to minister to others. And this is a hope that does not disappoint!
He is always working. Always moving. Always present.
Face the difficulties with certainty that you are loved, and God is using this to make you a minister to a world in need.