By Elisabeth Corcoran
I've been thinking a lot about hope lately. Hope is an interesting concept. One that I fear is too easily thrown around in Christian circles. Those of us who know Christ personally, well, we all have a hope, yes, absolutely. But from what I can tell we do not have a hope that God will work out our earthly circumstances the way we want him to. Our marriage may remain challenging; our cancer may not heal; the baby we desire may not come; the life dream may not come to pass. There is no guarantee in God's word that tells us this life will be easy or fair. Just the contrary, in fact. We are practically guaranteed that we will experience hardships of one kind or the other. But His word does talk about hope, just of a different kind.
Psalm 42:5 says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, My Savior and my God." Did you catch that? The psalmist is desperately sad here. Yet he reminds himself that he will "yet praise him", in other words "still praise him anyway" in spite of his circumstances, maybe even because of his circumstances. That is one main response we are to have to life's hard times: praise our God, even when we don't feel like it. Isaiah 49:23 says, "Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Really? All I have to do is hope in God and I will not be disappointed? That may rub some of us the wrong way, I know it did me the first time I read it years ago during a really sad season of my life "I have hoped for years, Lord - and I am very disappointed that this is how my life has turned out." Ah ha! There's the key. John Ortberg, in his book, The Life You've Always Wanted, talks about the concept of disappointment.
Break apart that word: "dis" means to miss; and "appoint" something prearranged, predetermined, an appointment. To be disappointed means to miss an appointment that has already been set. That word actually is a contradiction within itself. So when it says in Isaiah that those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed - it means that those of us who hope in God will not miss out on the life already appointed for us, as long as our focus stays on God. And trust me, ladies, that appointed life of ours, is infinitely better than any kind of life we could hope to conger up in our own strength and with our limited, humanly vision and resources.
And Colossians 1:5 says, "there is a faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven." So this hope of ours - it is an eternal hope, one that is being stored up for us in heaven. In other words, life may not get fixed for us down here, only God knows if our current circumstances will ever change. But - the eternal hope we can all cling to - that hope is that if Christ is our Leader and Forgiver, we have Him standing by our side, ready to walk through any fire with us and help us get to the other side - we might not come through unscathed, we might not even come through at all - but we will never have to journey all alone, if Christ is our Savior. Our hope is waiting for us on the other side of this life.
Are you in need of a big dose of hope these days? Are you feeling overwhelmed, to the point of desperation? You are not alone. Reach out. Reach out to your husband or to a friend or to a pastor. And make sure, above all else, that you are reaching out to God. He is holding our hope for us.
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