Find rest, o my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from Him. (Psalm 62:5)
The theme of hope is throughout Scripture: For example: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7) Hope itself is one of the good things in life, but the hope while an end in itself also extends additional blessings upon us. It is not one dimensional. When we say, “Hope blesses us,” this means that our enthusiasm for the tasks at hand increases. If we feel frustrated by the way a given life project is advancing, we become more patient and assured that the resistance of the task to being completed will be overcome. The new bathtub that just “won’t fit” in place will finally be in place. The student paper that is keeping us up at night with words that seem to run together like watercolor paint will come to a reasonable conclusion and be acceptable. Our hope in the Lord produces real outcomes that will thereby bless our worldly tasks and goals.
More importantly, our hope will bless our relationships with those who are our close relatives and friends, and those in a somewhat more distant circle such as co-workers or fellow riders on a bus or train. A guest on the Grant Stinchfield show on Newsmax was telling how a robber was trying to kidnap her and her car. Her name is Leslie Austin, and she fell to her knees crying “Jesus Jesus help me, help me.” She repeated this: “Please please Jesus help me.” The villainous robber pointed a gun at her, and shouted, “Don’t you see, I have a gun. I can kill you.” But she kept crying out and pleading in the name of the Lord. After a couple of moments that seemed like an eternity, he lowered his head, mumbled “I’m not going to take anything,” took the keys out of the ignition and threw them down, and walked away from the scene of his degradation.
Hope always extends beyond the stresses or even extreme pain of the moment. It is always forward looking. It is not even bound by time and space, but reaches into eternity. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5). This is an unshakable truth, and even in times of discouragement when a believer might ask himself or herself “Lord where are you?” we can be certain that He will make His presence known at just the right time. The enemy of our souls wants us to be in that devilish soft spot where he is murmuring incessantly in our minds “Where is God now? Where is your Jesus now?” I am no stranger to this voice, but we are called to resist this voice. Like Jesus as he fasted and prayed before he began His ministry, we need to act in faith and tell this subtle creature called the Devil to be gone, to get out, to disappear, to go away…and never come back!!!
A life without Jesus Christ is not a new life and thus is hopeless. Without Him, we are spiritually dead. “The Holy Bible tells us that “you were at that time [when Messiah Jesus was not accepted as Lord of your life] separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2: 12)
The above verse in Ephesians is tremendously instructive about the source of hope and the need to be transformed into a life with hope. Hope is not merely a type of “positive thinking” where, as the cliché goes, we see the glass as half full rather than half empty. That would make hope simply a matter of individual perspective. But hope properly understood is a spiritual term which derives its reality from our relationship with Almighty God. The quote from Ephesians tells us first that hope depends upon the fulfillment of the promises of God in the Old Covenant that Almighty God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made with Israel. The promise was that a Messiah would eventually come to restore mankind to its heavenly place and thereby fulfill all the promises made under a series of covenantal communications throughout the Old Covenant (or Old Testament). The Messiah is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. He is the Son of God, fully God and fully human. He was promised throughout the Torah (first five books of Moses) and even in the prophetic writings of Daniel, Zephaniah, Isaiah, and others. We see Him depicted as early as Psalm 2. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation offered up for the forgiveness of our sins and as the One who opens the strait way unto our eternal heavenly home.
Without Him, there is no hope. Thus, the natural man or woman who uses the word “hope” without a personal grounding in born again faith in Christ Jesus is still a deceived sinner. Their hope is not hope at all but a species of so-called positive thinking. That is why one of the all-time best-selling books The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, an ordained minister, is misleading. In that book, hope is depicted as an effect of positive thinking, whereas hope is actually the effect of a new life in Christ as a born again, saved sinner. This may seem to be a species of hair splitting, but the origin of hope must be seen and understood.
The key to understanding the Old Testament are the verses that point to the advent of Messiah. Obedience to the law proposed in the first five books, the Torah, was not the end-all and be-all of Jewish belief as the Pharisees and Sadducees taught. But the end-all and be-all for the Israelites – the Jewish people – was the coming of Messiah. The moral law and the sacrificial system of the temples were setting the stage for Messiah. Simply obeying the precepts of the Law of Moses was not an end in itself, but was a preparation for Christ, the true and ultimate deliverer of the Jewish people and, in fact, any and all people in the world – Jew or Gentile – who would receive the free gift of salvation that His life, teachings, and especially His death and resurrection offered the people.
Hope as found in the dictionary is merely a deceptive term more akin to positive thinking than to real hope. Real hope derives only from Christ. Its origin is theological and not linguistic. Therefore, we must bow our heads in submission. Like the robber who threatened Ms. Austin with a gun, we must lay aside our hostility to God and our cruel intemperate personalities and listen to His plea that we come to Him for forgiveness and reconciliation with Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Picture credit: Shayla
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