Finding Hope

It is hard to be hopeful these days. Bad news just keeps rolling down. We continue to read of the spread of Coronavirus and the rising death toll. We hear of a rise in violence, suicide, and depression, and we wonder if this is just the beginning of the long-term affects of social-distancing and pandemic threats. We see the political talking heads pointing blame at one another, which only shakes our confidence and heightens our fears.

In the middle of all of this, it is the roll of the Church, of every believer, to shine as a beacon of hope in a dark and dreary world.

Hope: it’s such a small yet powerful word. 

We often use it rather casually. We may talk of a “fools hope;” like when you hope your team wins even though they’re on a 5 game losing streak. Or maybe hoping that they’ll have a better year than last year – if they even get to play (yes, I’m thinking specifically of my Royals).

Then there are things we hope for that are really an expression of deep desire. “I hope to see you soon!” a parent will write to their child, indicating that they will be working toward that goal.

So what are the things we are hoping for right now?

  • I hope to stay healthy.
  • I hope no one I know catches this virus. If they do, I hope they don’t suffer.
  • I hope to go back to work soon. I hope I still have a job.
  • I hope college will start again in the fall.
  • I hope my marriage can survive this quarantine.
  • I hope that the Church can come back together soon – and that people won’t stay home even after it is safe to assemble.

There are many things we may be hoping for today, but there is one hope to which we are called to share in Scripture. The way the world speaks about hope (wishing for something that may or may not have any guarantee of coming about) pales in comparison to what the Bible means when it speaks of hope. The Psalms make it very clear that our hope is in the Lord:

  • Psalm 39:7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
  • Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
  • Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”

We put our hope in God, the one who is faithful, unchanging, and true. The Christian’s hope is established, strengthened, and encouraged in God’s Word. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass. Hebrews 11:1 teaches, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” 

So what do we hope for?

The hope of Scripture rises above the day to day wishes and desires, and is a longing for the very presence of God Himself. Our hope goes far beyond sickness and health, poverty and riches. Our hope is to find ourselves in joyous fellowship with God through eternity. This fellowship with God is only possible because He has promised to save us, and has done so through the death and resurrection of Christ our Lord.

Ps. 119:81 says, “My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.”  Our hope is in the Salvation of the Lord, His deliverance of His people from sin, from despair, from the brokenness of this world.

This is what Paul speaks of in Titus 2:13, when he writes, we are “waiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Our hope in this age, and in the age to come, is that we will see Jesus Christ; that we will stand with Him in the Kingdom of God, robed in His righteousness, called by His name. Our hope is that the one who ascended in glory, who now reigns over all things at the right hand of God the Father, will one day come again in glory to bring all things into submission before Him. Our hope is that this Savior, who died to atone for our sins, will also care for us unto the very end, and will not lose one of those whom the Father has given.

This is our hope, and our hope does not put us to shame (Rom 5:5). Therefore we will “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12).  So beloved, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom 15:13).

SDG

Deliver us from evil…

Its another week, and again we are reeling from the shock of yet another violent attack.  From the shooting in our own hometown of Lennox, SD a month ago, to the horror of Las Vegas and terror in New York City; now we add Sutherland Springs, TX to our growing list of tragedies that have touched every corner of our nation.

As I rose from my time in prayer for our nation today, a book on the shelf caught my eye: “Deliver Us From Evil” by Ravi Zacharias.  I paged through the book, and came upon the following that I wanted to share today:

Tragedies and atrocities are common fare, and in any corner coffee shop discussion can be heard of the latest horror or carnage to strike at our communities. Evil has taken on forms and concoctions that shock the world. Any catalog at the end of any given year tells a painful story of what is happening in our streets and homes and institutions…

As the barbarians scaled the walls of his beloved city, Augustine wept and penned The City of God.  No, Rome was not the eternal city. As Athens sowed the seeds of its own destruction, Socrates chose to drink the hemlock rather than give up his pursuit of the virtuous.  In England Wordsworth wept for the return of Milton to address the loss of England’s heroic character. Jesus wept at the sight of HIs beloved city and said, “If you… had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).

Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem have all lost their ancient glory. Today our alabaster cities have become tarnished, and with eyes dimmed by tears we cry, “Deliver us from evil.” But that deliverance can come only if we respond to the Creator’s loving invitation:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28–29)

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Isaiah 55:1–3)

If we can say, with King David, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God,” our deliverance is at hand.

How marvelous is the grace of God who has proven again and again that His Word brings light to a dark place, and who can take the wrath of men to bring praise to His name.