“I hope many of you will read and grow in your walk with God”. Not sure how you feel but that really sounded more like a wish than a hope. Wishing has more to do with a desire that possibly things will be better: making a wish before blowing out candles, throwing pennies in a fountain, breaking a chicken wish bone. Finding hope, unlike wishes, does not involve luck but may involve some pain and suffering to our own abilities.
Psalms 33: 16-22 ESV
16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. 18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
I hear this phrase often, “I hope I win the lottery.” The hope is that this large amount of money will allow me to buy all the happiness, safety, and fulfillment life has to offer. I could even give to the poor and rescue those without means, becoming their savior. In our passage above; a great army, great strength, and the war horse were considered prized procession, they were the difference in winning or losing the battle. Even if all their great might, they could not guarantee a safe rescue. Instead of resting our hope in our own human strength, place that hope in His unwavering love. God will deliver us out of the worst that this World can throw at us. Hopelessness brings a loss of desire, a loss of justice, and a loss of passion, without hope our next step becomes dark, unknowing and lifeless.
Jeremiah 29: 11 ESV
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah, is a well know prophet and you have heard this passage before Did you know that the prophet is asked by God to give news regarding 70 years of slavery and imprisonment for the children of Israel. The leaders refused to accept Jeremiah’s “Word from the Lord”. Instead they found other men who would give them prophecies more in common with birthday wishes. They spoke of overcoming the enemy, becoming a strong nation and how their great army and war horses are enough, we can do this in our own strength. Jeremiah is telling them that Babylon will rule over them and they will be salves for 70 years. God will deliver them but not until 70 years have passed. He tells them to have hope, marry, have children and have grandchildren. You will be restored; you can move forward and God’s unwavering love will be with each step you take.
Romans 5: 3-6 ESV
3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
We make wishes at each birthday with the desire that the next year will be better than the previous year. The truth is that it is suffering that makes us stronger not happiness. “In this World, you will struggle”, we find that truth in the book of James, the step-brother of Jesus. It does not read, “In this World you will be happy.” And, who would know that better than the step-brother of Jesus.
These struggles produce in us character. I love to see plays, movies and at one time I did a little acting. You want the audience to understand the character you are playing. What is their personality, their temperament, their psyche, and you want that character to have a certain stamp that identifies them each time they are seen. Living through struggles will build our stamp. Our stamp will be one of self-reliance or total reliance on God. When our reliance is on God, we are not looking for a way out, but a hope that He will lead us through. That God-reliant stamp will produce in us real and lasting Hope that gives glory to God.
Romans 8: 24, 25, 28 ESV
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
The Gospel (the Good News) is where we find our hope. That the Son of God would leave heaven and become a man. That He would live and He would die. Think about that for a moment we find hope in death. This Son of God, Jesus Christ was murdered, buried, resurrected and has made a way for us to walk in fellowship with Jesus once again. Jesus is our only hope, are only light in the darkness! Real Hope is found in dying to self each day and living for Jesus. What Stamp is seen on your life? Where do you place your hope?