March 7, 2018 | by: Scott Denny | 0 comments
It seems we are reminded daily about the brokenness of the world we live in as news reports flash about school shootings; as we experience the loss of loved ones; as another family member hears terrible news about her health; and on it goes.
As the things of this world press in on us, they can begin to consume us, control us and overwhelm us. As they do, we can easily become filled with despair, grief and sorrow because our circumstances or the circumstances of others seem insurmountable, and we lose hope that anything will ever change. We lose hope that God hears our prayers. We lose hope that God even cares.
Perhaps for some of you reading this article, you find that this is your experience today or you know of someone who is wrestling with hopelessness.
If so, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. The scriptures remind us that these kinds of experiences are common to man. [1 Corinthians 10:13] The scriptures remind us that saints before us faced similar temptations to lose hope, and that their way through that temptation was to fix their eyes upon and anchor their souls to the hope of the gospel. [Hebrews 11]
If hope is foundational to persevering, then what is hope and how do we get it?
In our culture there is plenty of hope. In the recent Winter Olympics, every one of those Olympians had hope that they would win gold. As the baseball season begins, I have hope that the Giants will win the World Series. For those Olympians, their hope is based upon their years of training. For me, my hope is based upon trades and free agent acquisitions that may push the Giants over the top this year. For those Olympians and for me, our hope is not based on a guaranteed outcome; rather it is based upon a desired outcome. It is based upon wishful thinking.
But biblical hope is so much more than wishing for a desired outcome. Biblical hope is having a confident expectation in a promised outcome – that is rooted in the nature and character of the One who’s making the promise.
The author of Hebrews encouraged his readers to persevere in their faith, and he encouraged them to cling to what is certain and impossible to change.
SO WHEN GOD DESIRED TO SHOW MORE CONVINCINGLY TO THE HEIRS OF THE PROMISE THE UNCHANGEABLE CHARACTER OF HIS PURPOSE, HE GUARANTEED IT WITH AN OATH, SO THAT BY TWO UNCHANGEABLE THINGS, IN WHICH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE, WE WHO HAVE FLED FOR REFUGE MIGHT HAVE STRONG ENCOURAGEMENT TO HOLD FAST TO THE HOPE SET BEFORE US. WE HAVE THIS AS A SURE AND STEADFAST ANCHOR OF THE SOUL. [Hebrews 6:17-19]
Biblical hope anchors our soul to the promises of God because by faith we are anchored to the Maker of these promises, who cannot change nor lie, and who assures us that as ones who are in Christ nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Hebrews 6:18; Romans 8:39]
This kind of hope assures me I am not alone, even if I feel alone, because my God tells me He will never leave me nor forsake me. [Hebrews 13:5] This kind of hope assures me that in a world that is seemingly teetering on chaos, that my God is in heaven sitting on His throne and there is nothing that happens outside the counsel of His will. [Psalm 115:3; Ephesians 1:11] This kind of hope assures me that in my deepest sorrow that I have a Comforter and a Savior who understands my sorrow, and He will give me rest. [2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 11:28] This kind of hope allows me to rejoice always and in everything give thanks because I know with certainty that behind every frowning providence is the smiling face of God. [Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18]
Apart from the grace of God, however, we would not know this kind of hope. This kind of hope is revealed to us through the mercy and grace of God [Ephesians 2:4] by granting us eyes to see and ears to hear, that we might confess our need for a savior [Romans 10:9, 10] as we are made children of God and joint heirs with Christ. [Romans 8:16, 17] This kind of hope reveals to us the riches of the grace of the gospel [Ephesians 2:7], and it serves as an anchor to our soul.
It is with this kind of confidence that saints who know what is true about God and about the gospel can and do fight for hope in the midst of what seems hopeless.
A hope that is rooted in the nature and character of God allows the Psalmist with all confidence to speak into his own despair as he asks:
“WHY ARE YOU CAST DOWN OH MY SOUL, AND WHY ARE YOU IN TURMOIL WITHIN ME? HOPE IN GOD; FOR I SHALL AGAIN PRAISE HIM, MY SALVATION AND MY GOD.” [Psalm 42:11]
A hope rooted in what Jeremiah knows to be true about God compels him to turn from his lamentation and inform his troubled heart with satisfaction and contentment in the Lord.
“MY SOUL IS BEREFT OF PEACE; I HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT HAPPINESS IS; SO I SAY, ‘MY ENDURANCE HAS PERISHED SO HAS MY HOPE FROM THE LORD’...MY SOUL CONTINUALLY REMEMBERS IT AND IS BOWED DOWN WITHIN ME. BUT THIS I CALL TO MIND AND THEREFORE I HAVE HOPE: THE STEADFAST LOVE OF THE LORD NEVER CEASES; HIS MERCIES NEVER COME TO AN END; THEY ARE NEW EVERY MORNING GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS. ‘THE LORD IS MY PORTION,’ SAYS MY SOUL, ‘THEREFORE I WILL HOPE IN HIM.’ [Lamentations 3:17, 20-24]
A hope that is rooted in the promise of eternity allows Paul to endure what is hard and painful:
FOR I CONSIDER THAT THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS PRESENT TIME ARE NOT WORTH COMPARING TO THE GLORY THAT IS TO BE REVEALED TO US...AS WE WAIT EAGERLY FOR ADOPTION AS SONS, THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES. FOR IN THIS HOPE WE WERE SAVED. [Romans 8:18]
Hope, my friends, is like faith. We cannot muster enough faith to believe. We have been given the gift of faith–an assurance, a conviction–that what God says to be true is in fact true, and that faith through God’s grace caused us to see our need for a Savior and to turn from our sin and turn towards Christ.
Similarly, Paul writes that “HOPE SEEN IS NOT HOPE. FOR WHO HOPES FOR WHAT HE SEES? BUT IF WE HOPE FOR WHAT WE DO NOT SEE, WE WAIT FOR IT WITH PATIENCE.” [Romans 8:24, 25] But we do not wait in our own strength. Rather we wait upon the God of hope who through the power of the Holy Spirit causes us to abound in hope [Romans 15:13] as we lift our eyes with a confident expectation that God hears our prayers and comforts the brokenhearted. [Psalm 34:18]
Brothers and sisters, in times hopelessness, drop anchor and cling to the hope that is certain and immovable. Anchor your souls to hope that is found in God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scott Denny is an Elder at Grace Bible Church