Holding on to Hope
"I hope so!" How many times do we say that in a day? We all have hopes and expectations for every day and for the future. Sometimes what we hope for lets us down or disappoints us. There are things that we look forward to that just aren't as good as we remembered or as cool as what we hoped for. Some of those for me are the Little Debbie oatmeal cookies; I always think that they're going to taste good (like I remember them) and I'm always disappointed because they're nothing like I remember. That's disappointing.
There are also things that we look forward to that we can think will make us happy, but then when those things come we can find ourselves unfulfilled and looking forward to the next thing. Right now there are situations in the world that feel hopeless: Covid and Afghanistan come to mind right away. Personally, you may be facing sickness, loss of loved ones, work, or financial difficulties. We can despair if we are in those hopeless situations or when dwell on hopeless situations that others are in or that are happening around the world. We can despair and stop waiting/hoping for God to move when things we've put our hope in have let us down. How can we have hope in a hopeless world?
Our Missional Community gathering last Wednesday was an "UP" night and Joel broke us up into 1 Spanish and 3 English groups while the youth broke out to have their Youth group time. Each of our groups had a different Psalm to meditate on and ours was Psalm 130. It was a great discussion with new and old friends and I was left thinking about what we long for. The Psalmist said that he waited for God "more than the watchman waits for the morning," which pretty much sums up what hope feels like. That's a lot of waiting expectantly! He concludes by saying that his hope and trust is in God.
We had an interesting observation on the similarity in Hebrew between the ideas of waiting and hope, which means to wait with expectation...almost like a server looks attentively towards those they are serving...which we call "waiting on tables." Anyway, in Spanish "wait" is "espera" and "hope" is "esperanza" while desperate or hopelessness are "desesperado" and "desesperacion." All having to do with that the connection between waiting and hope. Proverbs 13:12 makes this connection well when it says: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
As I went to bed that night thinking about these connections I had all of these different passages coming to mind that talk about hope and the uniqueness of the Christian hope from the many other hopes of this world. Our hope is in Jesus and what He has done, is doing, and will do!
Hebrews 6:19 says that "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain..." We can anchor the hope of our very soul in the very center of the presence of God; the Holy of Holies!
Hebrews 10:23-25 "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
+ We had this as a theme verse last year and it will be true every year until Jesus returns! We're called to hold firmly to our hope, the one we've put our hope in, and to those other hopeful believers whom we are sharing life with to live out this "blessed hope."
Romans 5:5 tells us that this "...hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
There are many things in life that are disappointing and can be despairing, but when our hope is in God all day long (Psalm 25:5) we will not be put to shame and we will not be disappointed! Putting our eyes on Jesus and making Him the SOURCE and the OBJECT of our Hope will give us stability in a shaken world of hopelessness and despair. WE need this Hope and the world needs us to have this hope to share with them now more than ever before in our lives. Here are three opportunities to be filled with hope and to share hope with others:
1. This Saturday, September 4th, we will be gathering at the State Capitol Grounds for a time of Celebrating the Nations. This will be a powerful, hope-filled, and Spirit-filled time together that would be a great place to go if you or people you know are in the midst of hopelessness...Pray about who to invite who has not found the hope that we have in Jesus! Matthew 12:21 promises that JESUS is the one in whom the nations can place their hope!
2. It is the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with Hope! It's in the presence of God together with the people of God that we are filled with faith and hope to live for God's purposes together. I want to invite you to join us on Saturday, September 11th for the Holy Spirit Weekend as we not only learn more about who the Holy Spirit is and what He does, but press into the presence of God to be filled with the presence, peace, and power of God that fills us with the love of God.
3. This Fall through Spring we will be exploring the book of Hebrews on Sundays and in it we will find reasons for our faith and hope as we look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and discover more ancient reasons for our faith and hope together. I'm excited to journey together through this powerful letter that is one of my favorite books of the Bible!
I HOPE to see you soon!