Hope--More Than Just a Four Letter Word
Mar 21, 2021
Lately, the importance of hope has been flirting with my thoughts. I have been thinking about "hope" and how important "hope" if for the Christian. Without hope, we cannot have faith; and without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hope leads us forward with the expectation of God's goodness being manifested in our lives now and throughout eternity.
Now, for the last couple of months I have been in a fog. I thought I knew the path and the plan God had for my life during this season of time, but I realized that I had somehow gotten off track. The spiritual harvest I was expecting had not appeared. I felt dryness during my times with the Lord and a sense of confusion. While my prayers for others seemed to have impact, prayers for my personal concern seemed to sink like lead. Where family and friends were experiencing breakthroughs and satisfaction with their efforts, I had a series of disappointing setbacks. Yet I never lost hope that God would provide a course correction. I never lost hope; the darkness did not overwhelm me.
However, I can look back at certain horrible times when I did lose hope. Life was a nightmare whether I was awake or sleeping. Yet I couldn't wake up, I couldn't escape from the nightmare. Even when I cried out to God, there was no relief--only darkness, turmoil, and despair.
Have you experienced the darkness of despair that I am referring to? Have you ever felt that God had forgotten you? That He had turned His back on you and didn't care what happened to you? Have you ever lost hope that you were going to get out of the pit, the circumstance, the pain you found yourself in?
I have. I have experienced being viciously attacked by those I trusted. I have felt abandoned and betrayed by God. The darkness of despair, the blackness, the sense of hopelessness--have all marked my life. God and His grace have delivered me and has restored my hope, but the scars remain.
[Now, I do not fear these scars; they are the verification of the maturation process that God has brought me through. They testify of His goodness, mercy, and grace and speak of His glory. These scars remind me of God's faithfulness during times of discouragement and doubt. They speak to me of my need to reach out to the Lord in times of sorrow, weariness, and defeat as well as during times of joy, celebration, and victory.
They also remind me to think of Jesus' scars, and how His scars remind us that Jesus defeated death and gained the eternal victory over sin. His scars set me free.]
And--going in the opposite direction--have you ever wanted to turn your back on God and ignore His directives to you? I think of how often people--how often I--harm ourselves by turning our backs to our heavenly Father. Like the prodigal son, we think we know more than God or simply do not obey His commands. In our pride, we cut ourselves off from the living water and take ourselves into places of dryness and famine. And we again often find ourselves struggling in the darkness.
I am thinking of all these things this evening as I look at this picture of my daughter's dog. [He had turned his back on her in disgust when she would not share her snack with him]. You see, I have recently been tempted to turn my back on God and ignore Him to follow my own ideas. I had planned and had been working toward filming two different video series dealing with different aspects of women in ministry. Even though my creativity seemed to vanish, my other plans had withered and died, I wanted to finish these because I had announced them publicly. Yet God is speaking to me about a series on the loss of hope.
I really did want to turn my back on this directive, not because I am ashamed or wish to dishonor the Lord, but because [to do it properly] would be a lot of work! And I had these other planned videos that I was to film soon....
However, unlike a certain dog I know, I cannot pretend to ignore the Master's voice when His words displease me. I cannot live without His presence. I want to produce much spiritual fruit, and I know what it is like to experience new life after the death of hope. So.., stayed tuned! I'll be sharing bits and pieces about this upcoming series in the days to come.
Until then, remember. God can restore your hope. No matter how bitter the disappointment, do not turn your back on God. Seek him, "pour out your complaint". Tell Him of your anger and despair. I promise you, He can handle it.