Updated: Apr 7, 2020
What is hope? Hope is a confident expectation in a better tomorrow, regardless of present circumstances.
False hope is an "emotional response to positive circumstances." But that kind of hope does us no good. When everything's going great, what do we need hope for? We need hope when everything's in the dumper.
Psalm 39:7 says, "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you."
How do we maintain that “confident expectation,” especially when things seem to be moving from bad to worse? By focusing on the God who’s bigger than any problem.
Now, you might be saying, “That’s easier said than done," but when the stakes in life are high, it’s absolutely imperative that we focus on God rather than focusing on our problems.
And we can illustrate the truth of that very simply. Think about driving down a crowded interstate highway. All the traffic is moving very fast. You’ve got a huge 18-wheeler on one side of you and on the other side is a deep ravine. There's simply no margin for error, right? What happens if you begin to focus on the 18-wheeler? Your car is going to veer right into that truck. Game over.
That’s the same thing that happens when we focus on our problems. We’re actually causing our lives to veer right into the very thing we’re trying to avoid. What happens if you focus on the deep ravine? You just joined the Olympic Guardrail Jumping Team. That’s what happens when we begin to stare at despair instead of hope.
The secret is to continue focusing on following Jesus Christ. "Lord, you're going to see me through. I’m claiming it in Jesus Christ. I’m claiming victory, not because of who I am, but because of who I am in you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
Let me give you sine very elementary steps to take when you feel like giving up, giving in, or surrendering to despair. And then, let me illustrate how hope works by looking at the lives of others whom Jesus has seen through to victory.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” That’s our first priority. Today, will you claim that verse as your own?
Now, there’s several things that can hinder that relationship and derail our hope. One is failure to forgive others. Jesus said in Mark 11:25, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Another is unconfessed sin. Isaiah 59:2 says, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”
Another hope killer we all need to be on the lookout against is seeing Christianity as, “What can God do for me?” rather than “What can God do for others through me?”
Matthew 20:28: Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If Jesus came to be a servant of all, then that’s most assuredly what He’s calling us to do, as well.
Then, we get our horizontal relationships right by living out Galatians 5:22-23 every day. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Once we’ve gotten to the place we’re 1) leaning on God every day, 2) living out the fruit of the Spirit in our relationships, and 3) making sure there’s no impediments to our relationship with God, then we’re ready to step into one of God’s most incredible promises.
Job 42, starting in verse 12, “So the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning... Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. When he died, he was an old man who had lived a long, full life.”
Too often, when things go wrong, we think, “Well, that’s it, the party’s all over now. God must be mad at me. Nothing’s ever going to go right again. The parade is officially passing me by.”
Listen, if Job wasn’t supposed to give up after all the terrible things that happened to him, don’t you dare to give up either!
Joshua 1:9: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” God, I’m claiming that you ARE with me, right now, as I struggle with this problem. You’re not a God who’s too busy for me, but the One True God who loves me and calls me His precious child.
Isaiah 41:10: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Here’s some incredible hope-filled news: God doesn’t love you one bit less than He did the heroes of scripture like Job, David, Ruth, Joshua, Abraham, Paul, or Deborah. And just as He empowered them for victory, He’s standing by to empower you in the very same way. We just have to know that we don’t trust our FEELINGS when we FEEL like giving up.
Micah 7:8: “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” That’s something to get excited about right there. The circumstances have left me in the dark, but God WILL be my light. The obstacles in my life have knocked me down, but the LORD is right here to lift me back up.
God wants you to claim resilient hope today. Claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ and then live out the steps of hope we’ve outlined. Today, today, today! In Jesus’ name, amen.