Strength in hope.

May 23, 2008

Where’s my hope?

Jeremiah remembered God. He remembered who God is; he remembered the unchanging character & purpose of God. In the midst of destruction & despair, in the face of a hard providence, Jeremiah preached truth to himself:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-24)

It amazes me that a man like Jeremiah could say he hoped in the LORD, even after all he had witnessed. For over 40 years, he preached a message of repentance & of God’s coming judgment on Judah’s sins. No one repented. He watched as calamity fell on the people of Judah; he saw the destruction of Jerusalem. With his finite eyes, what could he see but devastation? What could he see but no future, no hope for Judah?

But his hope wasn’t in anything that his eyes could see. His hope wasn’t in the possibilities or probabilities considering the present situation. His hope was in God, his portion.

Habakkuk, too, hoped in God in the midst of confusion & uncertainty. Regardless of circumstances, his hope (& joy) was in God.

Though the fig tree should not blossom & there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail & the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold & there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 )

Jeremiah & Habakkuk looked to God. They looked nowhere else, because they knew hope was found in God alone. They knew hope in God would not disappoint, no matter how hopeless things may seem. They had the kind of strength-giving hope G.K. Chesterton refers to:

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all . . . As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

There are those like Jeremiah & Habakkuk.

Yup. And then there are those like me.

I put my hope in the possibility of changed circumstances. I put my hope in the fulfillment of certain wants or plans. I put my hope in people. I put my hope in events. I put hope in myself — my meager abilities & my own devices. I put my hope in the possibility of deliverance, not the surety of the Deliverer.

I put my hope in things that I can see, because I think that what is seen is more sure than what is not seen (at least, not with my physical eyes). I forget that hope that is seen is no hope at all; & when my earthly “hopes” fail me, when I don’t see circumstances or hearts changing, I become sorely disappointed, discontent, or depressed.

I might say, or I might want to believe, that I’m hoping in God, but as long as I continue to be “hopeful” in these other things, my hope toward God is just vocabulary without reality.

But I’m thankful that false hope causes me to despair. My hope and expectation should be in God & in His word. This is true hope.

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” (Psalm 39:7)

“For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

“Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope.” (Psalm 119:49)

Only in the Lord do I find strength-giving hope for times of disaster, for times of despair, for times of grief, for times of discouragement with sin, for times of relentless circumstances, & for times of disappointment. He is my hope — nothing else, no one else. In Christ alone, my hope is found.

I can anchor my heart, my expectation, my everything in Him & in His promises.

Sometimes, things seem really hopeless. But this is because our hope is often misplaced. Our hope was never meant to be put in the things we see. Our hope was never meant to be put in people (how can we expect so much from man?).

Our hope is to be in God. And as we hope in Him, we find strength to wait upon Him. We find strength to persevere until our expectation is realized through Him, in Him, & for Him.

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24)

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One Response to “Strength in hope.”

  1. shamslayer Says:

    I so needed to hear this…thanks!


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