Sometimes we get frustrated, tired, and don’t want to talk or hear anymore about the issues going on around us in today’s world. While recently preparing a devotional, God helped me to face the issues I was avoiding in our country and around the world. Shootings, demonstrations - both violent and peaceful, elections, coups, religious freedom, discrimination, etc… How was I going to respond?
I have been presenting a book over the past 2 years entitled “Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler. The one chapter that I kept being led back in my preparation was “MIQWEH YISRAEL” , one of God’s titles/names, which means the HOPE OF ISRAEL.
When you look up HOPE in the dictionary, you see that it can be a NOUN or a VERB. As a noun the definitions are 1) the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best - and - 2) a person or thing in which expectations are centered. As a verb the definitions are 1) to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence, 2) to believe, desire or trust, and 3) to feel that something desired may happen.
HOPE is what I need right now.
I would like to pose a few questions. Take a moment to think about each of these questions:
-What does it mean to place your HOPE in people?
-What does it mean to place your HOPE in the LORD?
-Do we HOPE (a verb) or have HOPE ( a noun) on other things than GOD?
-Do Christians and Non-Christians have the same kind of HOPE?
We may try to define HOPE, but do these definitions explain the HOPE of Israel - “MIQWEH YISRAEL”?
Author Ann Spangler refers to HOPE as the great stabilizer. She writes it steadies us in times of fear and difficulty, not because we know that everything will turn out as we want, but because we know that God is trustworthy. Does that sound like HOPE to you? She states that HOPE is what helps us stay on course regardless of our circumstances.
In the Bible we find that HOPE finds its roots in God - in His goodness, His mercy and His power. We can EXERCISE our HOPE in God by enduring patiently. We can NURTURE our HOPE in God by reading His Word. Although we do HOPE for earthly blessings, do we truly realize that our Greatest HOPE should be aimed at our life to come, when God will not only wipe away our tears but invite us to shares His joy forever?
In Jeremiah 17:7-5, 13 it reads “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. … LORD, your are the HOPE of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who run away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.”
Does “lack” of HOPE in God damage our souls? HOPE in God is not just a matter of emotions. It is not wishful thinking. It does not depend on our circumstances. HOPE in God is rooted in our relationship with God. HOPE in God gives us the confidence that God is working for our good in all things. We may at times feel disappointed, depressed, afraid, sad, or confused, but with HOPE in God we will never give way to despair. HOPE gives us the power to endure until the day God fulfills the greatest of all His promises - spending the rest of our lives forever in His presence.
In Hebrew Scriptures, HOPE is connected to the expectation that God is a deliverer who will save those who trust in Him. It urged Israel then - and - us now to wait confidently for Him to act. Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.” In the New Testament, HOPE is rooted firmly in Jesus, - in His life, His death, His resurrections and in His coming again in glory. We also have HOPE for this life because the Holy Spirit indwells in us. This HOPE the Bible shows is a type of strength that enables us to be “patient” and “enduring” regardless of what we face.
But how do we build or grow our HOPE? HOPE grows best in the soil of faithfulness. We need to live our lives for God, loving His law, doing His will, immersing ourselves in His Words, believing that He is who He says He is, and worshipping Him together with His People.
My prayer for each of us as we head out to our homes, neighborhoods, jobs and in whatever situation God places us every day is found in Isaiah 40:31 which reads: “those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
My HOPE in the LORD is exactly what I need.
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