The Object of Your Hope
Our hope is only as secure as the object of our hope. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where few things outside of the laws of nature can really be counted on. That’s why we hope; it gives us confidence (however false) that what we hope for is possible. We hope for the unseen and then we wait. We never know if it’ll work out or not, but we keep hoping because, well, what else are we supposed to do? What happens when we face repeated disappointment? Our hope begins to fade, or we stop hoping entirely. If we have secure and loving relationships, a reliable income, the basic necessities in place (food, water, shelter, clothing) and community, our hopes tend to be pretty materialistic. We hope to go on a different vacation in the summer, we hope to get a new(er) car this year, we hope one of our more difficult co-workers gets transferred to a different department and away from our desk, etc. They’re not bad things to hope for, but they’re entirely circumstantial. We still hope for them because we think they’ll make life a little easier. Who doesn’t want that? What about those who have genuine needs and no ability to meet them? A foster child who hopes to one day have parents who love him. A single mother’s only son is on life support because of a drug overdose. She hopes he lives. A victim of a violent assault can’t leave her home anymore without having horrible panic attacks. She hopes for healing. These types of situations beg for hope. They demand it. What’s interesting is the bigger the need for hope, the larger the disappointment and fear surrounds it. Similar to Indiana Jones navigating life-threatening obstacles in pursuit of the arc, those fears can feel pretty ominous. We can’t bear to step into such unknown so we steer clear of hope entirely, or we stare at it from a distance, never really experiencing it. Consequently, we slowly die inside because nothing changes, and it cripples our ability to persevere. Then we blame hope, not realizing that hope isn’t the problem. Deep down we know hope is good. Facebook pages like Wish wouldn’t have more than 4.5 million likes if that weren’t the case. Our instincts tell us, and our experiences have proven that hope is good. Hope has gotten us through some of the most challenging and darkest of times. The pain and disappointment come when the thing we hope in falls short. When we want our kids to stay safe and they get hurt, hope falters. When we hope for that promotion and it’s handed to someone else, hope is kicked in the face. The problem isn’t hope - the problem is what we’re putting our hope in. We have to stop hoping in what will always, eventually, perish. The Bible says hope does not disappoint. That’s only true if the one in whom we hope is incapable of disappointing us, which means his character is without flaw. Do you find yourself hoping for what God can do for you, or hoping for God himself? Is your perception of God based on the hope you have in your circumstances? Or is your perception of your circumstances based on the hope you have in God? Read that again. Slower, this time. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever” (AMP). If you have faith in Christ as your Lord and savior, do you believe this scripture to be true? If so, then the character he had 2,000 years ago hasn’t changed. So when Paul wrote, “God, who is ever truthful and without deceit,” (Titus 1:2) he was talking about the same God we have today. If this is true, God is without deceit, and he never changes, then everything he’s ever promised in scripture is true. And those who believe in him, who hope in him, have this certainty: They will never be in want (Psalm 34:9), they will cast out demons and speak in new tongues (Mark 16:17), they will be children of God (John 1:12), they will no longer live in darkness (John 12:46), they are set apart from the rest of the world (Acts 20:32), they will not be condemned (Romans 8:1), they will be saved (Galatians 3:22), they are blessed and have God’s favor (Galatians 3:9), and they have hope (1 Timothy 4:10).
I know, your first thought is, “Sam, I don’t think I’ve seen any of this in my life.” Then I ask you, how are you living? Are you living as though you’re free or condemned? Do you live as though you have the authority to cast out demons or as though you don’t? Do you live like you’re saved or enslaved? What do the choices you make say about how you live? We have a choice. Here’s the catch - this is all true regardless of what your circumstances look like! Hope that never perishes is in the God of the Bible who promises to give these things and much more. Where are they? Right in front of you. Start living like it. Speak and act like it. Our circumstances may not look like it, but I go back to my original questions: Is your perception of God based on the hope you have in your circumstances? Or is your perception of your circumstances based on the hope you have in God? Try living, in thought, word and deed, as though the promises of God are true for you today. Right now, and forever. He doesn’t change. The only variable that’s changed since Jesus invited Peter to walk on water, raised Lazarus from the dead, healed the blind and made the lame walk, is you. So what are you going to do about it? “And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, AMP).