Hope. What is hope? The definition in a noun form is: 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. And 2. a feeling of trust. If we were to open up a copy of God’s cookbook of everything, what do you think would be the main ingredient of Hope? I would think Faith. To truly have hope, that certainty, beyond-a-doubt expectation, what is the glue? Faith. Faith that the Lord, my God, YOUR GOD, will always step up to the plate and hit a home run.
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. Ephesians 1:8 (NIV)
“So that YOU may know the HOPE to which he has called you.” Why don’t we take a look at some places where it is hard to find hope when all seems broken. Guaranteed, we can find the Lord within all the mess.
I wait for the Lord. My soul waits and I hope in His Word. Psalm 130:5 (NLV)
How many times have you been worried? Or worried AND waiting? Maybe it’s right before a big test, or in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. You feel that impending doom, like you are the only one in the room and your life is at a turning point. Fail… or Pass? Did I study enough? Did I trust my instincts enough?
Questions, questions, questions. How many of you in those moments have opened your Bible? How many of you gave those reigns to the Lord, and truly let it up to him?
“I wait for the Lord. My soul waits and I hope in His Word.” How can we expect him to have control of a situation if we don’t meet him somewhere and say, “I put my HOPE in YOU. I put my trust in you. I put my faith in you.” Hope is not easily found on a blank test with no studying and no Faith.
So when we are burdened and feel like there is very little hope, know this. The first step to finding that hope and that faith is when we find his word.
…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. Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
Hope is powerful thing. It can be a stimulant that forces you to move forward. Most of us are familiar with the story of how Jesus healed the woman who touched his cloak as he was walking. This woman truly believed in the depths of her heart that Jesus could take away her pain, her sorrow. She never doubted it for a second and THAT is why Jesus healed her. Not because she was sick, but because she had the hope that he could do it. Understand this, while walking in the pitch dark the only way to know where you are going is to feel what’s around you. Touch is a strong thing and for her to reach out and touch his cloak, the ONE person that could direct her to a life of health. WHAT BRAVERY! WHAT FAITH! WHAT HOPE! We don’t have to reach that far. God says that all we have to do is put our HOPE in the LORD, and we can soar like eagles.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLV)
Life is full of forks in the road. Sometimes it’s hard to see the clear path we should take. It takes great faith and determination to continue down bumpy roads, but the hope that the Holy Spirit offers can be the driving force. We continue to push through the mud and muck with the Lord sitting next to us. My prayer to you is that you let the hope of the future push you through those bumps. Hope that one day you will be exalted in his grace, overflowing with confidence and peace. The Lord will always deliver us to our right path if we let him guide us. This is where a BIG part of that faith comes in because it’s not always easy to trust in him. But is it? Sometimes we just have to let him take the wheel. Is it an inner circle argument that may be holding you back? Or an unauthorized feeling of being more important than others? Is it the desire for greed? Or is it sorrow filled grief? Many things can hold us back from taking the path that God is willing to give us. Trust in him, and have hope that he will always be the source of joy.
Having a strong faith and putting all your hope in the Lord takes a brave person. It is easy to find criticism from others and it can be discouraging in a broken world. But the Lord has our back.
He says, “Be strong. Be strong in heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 (NLV).
Be strong in heart. This is all the encouragement needed! The moment you feel weak, the moment that you’re on the edge of breaking down… Be strong. The Bible says, “For everything there is a season.” But nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Lose HOPE.” While grieving, while plucking, while in war… keep your hope and stay strong. It is not always easy, but what would be the value in our reward if life was easy? God does not throw curve balls in life so that we suffer or get discouraged. It is merely life. But guaranteed, if you live your life to the fullest taking every moment and asking, “How can I better my soul in this day? And how can I live each moment for God?” there will be riches greater than gold waiting for you. Rest your heartache and lay down your burdens, for God has something amazing with YOUR name written on it. Keep your hope strong, and give it to the Lord.
But those in need will not always be forgotten. The hope of the poor will not be lost forever. Psalm 9:18 (NLV)
It is so hard sometimes to hear the story of how Jesus fed the five thousand people with only two fish and five loaves of bread, knowing how many men, women, and children all over the world go hungry everyday. The world gets angry because they ask, “Why would God let this happen?” It is easy to get angry, and so very hard to be hopeful. Faith can be broken, and hearts along with stomachs go empty.
The key is not to turn a blind eye, or lose your faith. The key to this is his word. “But those in need will not always be forgotten. The hope of the poor will not be lost forever.” God hears our cries, and he hears their burdens. Hope is in the hands of a fellow youth who volunteers at Saturday’s Kitchen. Hope is in the Johnstown Backpack Project. Hope is in our church’s Deacons and their amazing food program. Hope can be found in the midst of an empty cupboard. Every hand that passes a prayer or a plate, onto our fellow humanity is a gift from God. There is hope; it just needs to be found.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23 (NLV)
Let’s picture a game of tug-o-war. Our problems can often seem like a harsh game of tug-o-war. Hope on one side, and despair on the other. We are pulling and pulling only to realize that we are the knot in the middle. So instead of being stuck in the mud, let go. Leave the worries you are holding so tightly to in the muddy middle. Push your mind and heart to the side of hope and gather yourself together.
When has God EVER made a promise to you and then broken it? God is the best promise keeper ever! Good and bad, breathtaking or ugly. Whether it is a flood or a baby, God makes a promise and always follows through. Sometimes it’s hard to see this because we are so busy making promises to ourselves through God’s name, but no one really knows his plan except for him. That is where that familiar word, Faith comes into play. We need to have faith and keep hope without wavering.
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)
When someone says, “I have it all planned out”. Do you tend to have that tinge of panic? How can I give up that control? Where does this all leave us? Easy. It leaves us HERE. Right here as you read this. It’s a church full of a bright tomorrow, a sanctuary full of God’s people, faithful people, and a youth program full of strong willed, hopeful kids. God says he will “never abandon us,” that he has our future planned out so all we have to do is have HOPE for that future. As I said before, it can be hard to give that control away, but know this; with God’s love the future looks pretty amazing. As you read this today, we are not only sharing God’s word, but we are giving a glimpse of that hopeful future. We will continue to grow, we will continue to need guidance, and we will continue to disappoint at times. But know in your heart, that we are strong in faith, and we are always learning. We trust in God’s plan, and we will do our best to follow God’s will. Put your hope in God, and together we can all be a small part of God’s amazing army.
I know my God, do you? I put my hopes in him, do you? I know he is a God of fulfilled promises and never-wavering dependability. He is the one that I can fall before in all my grief or sorrow and know, without a second thought, he will hold me close BEFORE he picks me up. Through thick and thin he is my everlasting lifeline. The keeper of my peace, and giver of joy. I know beyond a doubt, on my worst of days full of frustration and fear, that he will guide me to his will. It will be messy, and it will be hard, but in the end I know that he has a plan. His word builds my hope and gives me strength.
Where I do see hope? I see hope in my children’s faces. I see hope in the first blade of green grass after a long winter. I see hope in my youth group’s amazing responses to deep questions. I see hope in the pews at church, hope of a guiding light for all who walk through the doors there. I see hope in my grandfather, someone who has been through war, both literal and in life’s battles. He is a cancer survivor who continues to crack jokes. I see hope in each of of my church family’s and their kids, the hope for a brighter future in a broken world. Yes, our world will most likely still be broken twenty years from now, but doesn’t it give each of you hope to know that WE can groom these green souls to be great, faithful people? They may be few in numbers here, but what about the lives they will influence? It’s impossible to look at them and not see God working.