Fresh hope

Hope Again

There has surely been a time where you have desired, waited, and prayed for something  for yourself or someone you love and seen it fail or just not happen over and over and over. In time, perhaps you have all but or completely given up hope of ever seeing this desire fulfilled. Perhaps the pain of this has been so hard and disappointing that your heart has slowly hardened into bitterness. Questions continually haunt you as to why this had to happen again, or why it happens for others but not you. Is God punishing you or your loved one? Hope seems dead, dreams are crushed and promises feel broken. Proverbs 13:12 says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.” If you have ever found yourself in this position, I have some good news for you that, I hope, will allow you to hope again. 

One person who knew what it was like to have hope deferred was Abraham. He was promised a son by God, but it took many years before this promise was fulfilled. During this time, He and his wife Sarah were tempted to give up believing. Romans 4:18 in God’s Word Translation says, “When there was nothing left to hope for, Abraham still hoped and believed, and as a result, he became the father of many nations, as he was told.” The New American Standard version puts this verse as, “Who in hope, believed against hope to the end, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken.” These verses make the point that, whether or not you have a specific promise over your life as Abraham did, nevertheless, we have the promises that God gave to all His children in Scripture.

Some examples are, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” or “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.” We have promises where the Lord assures us that our life has purpose and meaning and that He is in every detail of our life, and that He intends to move in our lives in a way that will bless us and bring Him glory when we are faithful. 

The purpose of this talk is that no matter what feels dead to you…if your marriage feels dead, or your emotional life feels dead, if your womb is dead, or if you are sick, and your body is failing you…if your finances are dead…these areas of what we perceive to be deadness, broken promises, unfulfilled dreams…I want to implore and encourage you to believe, even when it seems that there is no reason, that God is working, that He is good, and that He absolutely wants to restore and redeem. He will do this, and there is a reason to hope because our hope is not in the tangible gift that we seek, but our hope is in the Giver of the gift…our Redeemer, God Himself.

God is faithful, and when we choose to believe, regardless of what’s going on, God will always bless. Now those blessings may look different than what we expected, but when we are blessed by the Father, it doesn’t matter what form the gift comes in. We will be ready to receive it when we believe and refuse to turn away. Believing in God despite our circumstances changes us. 

Another important verse is found in Habakkuk 2:4, “Look at the proud. His soul is not straight or right within him, but the rigidly just and uncompromisingly righteous man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness.” This verse is important because it shows us two types of people: a person who is proud and bitter with anger and resentment towards God because of unfulfilled dreams and desires. This type of person’s soul is not straight. They are not walking with God or believing His promises. The things they do believe are moving them further down the path towards increasing bitterness towards God. The other type of person is the “rigidly just and uncompromisingly righteous man.” What does that mean? They realize that the position they are in will either make them or break them. They must be uncompromising in their faithfulness and fight the good fight, or they will fail. This verse is not talking about perfection, but rather choosing to cling to the fact that God is good, that He is faithful, and that He has good in store, no matter how it seems in the moment.

The final verse is James 5:16b:  “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic and its working].” AMPC

This verse lets us know that there is a battle; there is a struggle, and that we must remain in the fight when God gives us promises. He very rarely instantly and miraculously gives us what we ask for, even though that’s how we want it and feel entitled to. Most of the time His end goal is not so much to give us what we want, although He loves to give His children good things. Rather it is to develop our character through the opposition that comes our way. He is in the process of making us more and more like Christ, through the intimacy, we gain with Him as we persevere through the struggle. The fulfillment of the promise is like the icing on the cake while the cake itself is to be changed to become a radiant reflection of Him, enabling us to perceive God correctly…the most precious gift we can be given. This correct perception allows us to hold on during opposition. It is obvious that we cannot learn to hold on through opposition unless we experience actual opposition.

I looked up the word “broken” in the original Greek. It means to loose, release, and to dissolve; to separate something into parts or pieces by violence; dividing into fragments as a broken chain or a rope. This is very interesting because we view brokenness as a bad thing, but I think the very things that we think we want such as, “I want a baby,” or “I want my marriage to be healed,” are good things that are desired by broken, sinful people. This cannot produce a good result, so God uses opposition to break us from what we think we want and need. What this accomplishes is to bring freedom through brokenness. We can finally be released from those things that we want more than a closer relationship with God Himself. Then, when we receive His divine gift, we can actually receive it in a way that honors Him. The breaking apart is actually more of a gift than the gift itself. It’s the painful process when He breaks us, looses us and dissolves that which is important to us and takes away everything that we hold onto other than Himself. This allows us to stop focusing on what we so desperately want that is blinding us to anything else and to enter into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. This is what allows us to hope again.

 

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