This morning, as I read from the Daily Devotional Bible by Oswald Chambers, a passage struck me … “Darkness is not synonymous with sin; if there is darkness spiritually it is much more likely to be the shade of God’s hand than darkness on account of sin;” What a beautiful way of looking at the darkness around us. Scripture tells us that God’s hand is upon us, 1 Peter 5:6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” What a comfort to know that God’s hand stretches out above us like a protective canopy, temporarily shading us from the light whilst we undergo works of sanctification.
Oswald continues “it may be the threshold of a new revelation coming through a big break in personal experience. Before the dawn there is desolation; but wait, the dawn will merge into glorious day, the light of dawn that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Whilst in the darkness, what can we do but hope or despair. With hope, we can confidently rise each day with a positive heart, prepared to fill our day with hard work and devotion in our workplace, with our colleagues and our family and friends. Without hope, we have nothing but despair. This may seem to you dramatic, but I write this from personal experience. Earlier today when I began this blog on “hope”, I was not to know that later in the day, I myself, would need to hear the words I write to you now and the associated Scripture. As I began to fall into despair from a longstanding personal issue I forced myself to go for a walk, a walk in which I was blessed with the fresh country air, the affection of my husband as we walked hand in hand, the joy of my dogs enthusiasm, the small talk with strangers and the beauty of God’s creation. Because I have hope in the Lord, I see the events of my walk as blessings from God. They are not circumstance of “nature” or “happenstance”, they are God’s blessed intention and by this hope I was rescued from despair. Please do not misunderstand me, there are times in our wilderness seasons when the most committed of Christians can despair, as King David did (you can read about his depressions in the Psalms). The difference between the believer and the non-believer is that hope in the Lord can pull us from this despair and set us on the correct path once again, Lord knows I have been wrenched out of some dark holes! This hope in the Lord that I speak of has the ability to sustain us. Paul groups hope along with faith and love, which shows the importance that he places on hope “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.
As Christians we have the ultimate hope, for without Christ, what is there to hope for, without Christ, our lives end with our death … with Christ, our lives are just beginning as we depart from our earthly body. Without Christ, we can hope for a better job, a partner, a baby, better family relations, a new house but we cannot escape the pain of the world around us. With Christ we have hope that we will one day be free from the pain that the world often brings to our door. While we sojourn through our earthly lives, we have the hope that Christ will protect us, that Christ will be our comfort and our guide. We have this hope because Christ is faithful, Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” The Lord planned for us to have hope, Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”
So, as Christians what should we hope in?
- Glory in Christ, Colossians 1:27 “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
- Inheritance as God’s child, Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
- Eternal Life, Titus 1:1-2 “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”
How can we hope?
- By the power of the Holy Spirit, Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- By looking up toward the Lord, Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Why should we hope?
- It gives us endurance, 1 Thessalonians 1:3 “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- It gives us strength, Isaiah 40:31 “but 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 be faint.”
- We are saved by hope, Romans 8:24 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”
Let us pray together,
Father, thank you for your Word, your Word that brings us comfort, that guides us and reveals your nature to us. Help us when we are weak, when the worries of this world become to much for us to bear. Although you have done so much for us already by bearing our sins on your naked body upon the cross, may we ask that you take our yoke from us and replace it with your yoke which You tell us is much lighter and more bearable for us. Come alongside us in our wilderness experiences and let us feel your presence. We humbly ask these things in your mighty, loving and most esteemed of names, Amen.
May the peace of God be upon all who read this especially those struggling with despair or those who are experiencing a wilderness moment.
Love and blessings