“But we had hoped that he was the one was going to redeem Israel. Not only this, but it is now the third day since these things happened” (Luke 24:21).
Bruce Hornsby sings a popular song that goes like this, “That’s just the way it is, some things will never change, that’s just the way it is–but don’t you believe them.” I love this song because it reminds me that it’s easy to get stuck in day–to–day living and think this is all there is—to live day in and day out with little hope on the horizon. Maybe you have been praying about something for as long as you can remember, and it has been tempting lately to give up. Perhaps your kids are going through a hard time and that season of hard has been way more than you thought you signed up for. Or it could be a relationship you have held dear is fracturing and you don’t see how it can ever be right again.
Persistence in Hard Times
This life isn’t an effortless one. Pain surrounds, fear can take over, and hope sometimes is in short supply. It’s understandable how we can lose hope in this world–it’s easy to do. It takes willpower to stop and look toward the future for the hope that might be hard to see in the moment. It takes persistence to keep praying in dark times. It takes faith to do the right thing even when the good results aren’t coming just yet.
What is Hope
The word “hope” is most used in our vernacular to mean a wish: its strength is the strength of the person’s desire. We use it in this way; I hope for a restored relationship, or I hope for a good outcome on a test. Hoping for something. But in the Bible, we see the word “hope” applied as the confident expectation of what God promised and its strength is rooted in His faithfulness, not our strength. Hope in someone–our trustworthy God. Those are two very different things, wouldn’t you agree?
Hoping for something isn’t bad; it’s natural. But placing hope in those things is where we can get into trouble. Our hope should be rooted in God, His character, and His promises in His Word. If our hope is rooted there, we cannot be disappointed.
- Don’t let the “hoped for” make you miss the “hoped in.” How do you know the difference? If the hope is in the Word of God and promised there–that is hoped in. You can bank on it. Everything else is hoped for. In Luke 24:13-27, two men were on the road to Emmaus. At this point in the story, Jesus had died on the cross, had risen from the dead, and was appearing to His followers in different settings. Two of Jesus’s followers were in a dark time, walking to Emmaus and discussing all that happened and what could have been. They were so disappointed because they were hoping Jesus was going to redeem Israel and form His kingdom right then and there. A man appeared, joined them on their walk, and asked them why they were so upset. They almost missed it, but their eyes were opened, and they realized the man talking to them was Jesus. Their despair in missing out on what they hoped for almost made them miss their hoped in.
- Hold on loosely to the hoped for and hold on for dear life to the hoped in. Some of us might be really disappointed this past year because we’ve been hoping for something that hasn’t come through. A handful of us could be praying about certain things and hoping for them, but they haven’t come to pass yet and as a result, bitterness has started to grow. We all need to have hope in our lives, but what are we hoping in? Hoping for good things isn’t wrong, but when we put our trust in those things and all our dreams depend on those things, it can be dangerous to our spiritual health.
- Normally our hoped fors are too small. If we were to get them anyway, they probably wouldn’t satisfy us. Not so with our God. His hope is so much bigger than our minds can even comprehend. And it takes faith to see that hope; faith and hope in what we can’t always see with our eyes, but that we can trust because of God’s promises. On the road to Emmaus the two men were hoping for a physical kingdom, but what they got in Jesus’s resurrection was so much more than that. They got something eternal.
Let us be reminded today that our hope is firm and secure in the person of Christ, and we can trust the future because of the hope we have in Him.