Hope? What I have comes to realize over the years is that those that profess to follow Jesus are not too different than those that do not, they have little or no hope. Part of the challenge is that we and all our culture define hope as wishful thinking rather that letting God define what hope really means!
The Encarta Dictionary defines hope as “to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.” Let’s be honest it is really hard to hold onto wishful thinking. Yes, we can keep telling ourselves positive things but deep down inside we still lack confidence. The Bible has much to teach us about hope. Let’s look at a few passages that help us to understand the follower of Jesus’s real source of hope.
First, let me suggest this definition of Biblical Hope –“it is the certainty that is based upon God’s ability to fulfill His promises and take care of his people.” We often talk about a warranty on a product as being only as good as the company that stands behind it. This illustrates the need to have Biblical Hope. If things are out of your control, can you trust in yourself? But you can trust in God! The difference between the cultural definition and the Biblical one is God. The cultural definition based on desire or wishful thinking is like trying to hold water in your hands, it slips right through. The Biblical definition is based on God’s ability to fulfill His commitments. Biblical hope is the by product of the follower of Jesus placing their confidence in God. The Lord puts it this way, ““fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
This past week we continued our study of King David’s life by looking deeper at David’s exodus from Jerusalem after Absalom’s coupe. I wanted to explore David’s hope against all circumstances. He lost his position as King and all of its blessings and privileges. He was on the run for his very life. And on top of all that the situation was dire, even some of his closest supporters and friends turned on him. I develop this more fully in the message that you can listen to here. What stood out to me was David’s trust in God. We read David’s response when being humiliated and cursed by Shimei. “It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.” (2 Samuel 16:12) In the message I looked at all the bad things that happened to David from a cultural perspective. But when we look deeper from God’s perspective we actually see the opposite, God at work.
Second, let me suggest that Biblical hope is the byproduct of a developing relationship with God. The Apostle Paul speaks to this when we writes, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13) Real hope is the result of knowing how God operates and then trusting Him to do so. What this means to you and I is that the spiritual habits of faith become indispensable. It is through absorbing God’s truth into our lives that we are laying the foundation for when the storms of crisis come. There is no easy substitute for a lack of preparation. Jesus used the illustration of being the wise man that builds his house upon the rock. David was able to have hope even when everything screamed that he was ruined. Why? Because he had cultivated a relationship with God over time that gave him a handle to hold onto when his life seemed to be falling apart! How about you? Do you have Hope? Or Hope!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson