The Balance of Hope

I received a text from a friend the other day. I found it slightly unusual that I was hearing from her. We used to work together and she typically isn’t one to stay in touch. She texted to see if I was still playing with my old band. Unfortunately, I had left several months before and had to tell her I wasn’t playing with them anymore.

Her encouraging response surprised me. She said that her and her long-term boyfriend had split up and that my old band’s music was helping her through it. I was immediately sad for her. The pain of losing someone you care about can be unbearable at times, but I was encouraged that she found hope in the music.

For those of those that don’t know, I used to play bass for This The Rescue. The entire purpose of their music is to bring hope to the weary, broken, and lost. If you haven’t listened to their music, I highly recommend that you give them a listen. I believe that hope is one of the most important qualities to hold onto in our lives, but that can seem like a daunting task when we are hurting.

THIS BROKEN WORLD

Our world became broken the day sin entered into it. Along with sin came death and every painful emotion that we can feel. Sometimes our sufferings in this world can feel so unbearable that we don’t want to live. It happens when young people die too young, our loved ones become deathly ill, and catastrophes strike our lives.

I promise you that hardships will come. In the entire bible I can not find one spot where is says that life will have no pain and suffering, but rather I find multiple verses that encourage us to persevere.

The question remains, “How do we persevere?”. It is as simple as having hope. Jonah had to have hope when he was in the belly of the whale. Joseph had to have hope that God would one day free him from prison. David hoped he would be delivered from his enemies. Daniel hoped the lions wouldn’t eat him. Paul hoped. Peter hoped. Jesus hoped.

There’s not one major character in the bible that didn’t look up in their darkest hour and hope that God would save them. We live in a broken world and that means sometimes things won’t feel right, we’ll be attacked by the devil, and all will seem lost. In those moments look to God and remember to hope because he knows your circumstance.

HOPE IN THIS WORLD

The world can give riches, fame, and fulfill many physical desires, but it’ll never be enough. You’ll always want more because there is always more to be desired. I think one of the greatest arguments for the existence of God is by C.S. Lewis. He says, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

All too often we seek and hope  to fulfill our desires in this world. We hope to make more money, buy more stuff, and have more friends. In the end, we still end up wanting more because our hopes will never be completely realized in this world. Timothy 6:7 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Hope in this world always disappoints because the world is broken, but that is no reason to stop hoping.

THE NEXT WORLD

As, Christians we have the ultimate hope. Christ has redeemed all of us on the cross so we all may have eternal life and now we can look forward to the next life. We live for the next world because Jesus says in Matthew 6:20, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Anything we earn in this world will simply disappear. Every big accomplishment will fade away when Christ returns. It is great comfort knowing that, but I think sometimes that can cloud our minds.

When our hardships and sufferings arrive it is simple to fall into the trap of only seeing the next world as a way out. If we look at the bible, many people were suffering so much that they wanted to die in order to be in heaven. Elijah asks God for permission to die because he suffered so much. Job even goes as far to say he wished he had never been born. I think this happens to many people that we know, but we may never realize it. The ultimate result can be suicide, which I believe is a complete and total absence of hope.

But even in his darkest hour, Elijah was blessed by God with strength to continue. Job suffered more and more until one day God gave him more than he could have ever dreamed. These examples are reminders that God will bless you. Remember to hope that good things can and will happen to us. For every bad situation in your life, I know God is working on a good situation, even though you may not see it. We should not live for this world, but God will still allow us to find joy in this life. For every suffering event we find in the bible, there is always a joyous moment that follows it.

HOPE FOR ALL

I see no reason not to hope for things we want. The bible is specific that God will hear all of our prayers and we should petition him with our desires. The problem arrises when we don’t see all of the options. We limit ourselves by hoping and praying for specific things, but that causes us to be closed-minded. We only look for “one possible answer” instead all the different ways God can answer your prayer.

I once knew a pastor and his wife that could not have children. They prayed and waited, but they never became pregnant. They had to look into adoption, which wasn’t specifically what they had in mind. So, the church raised funds for them to adopt a child from overseas. That was a hope was realized in a way that wasn’t expected and that baby brought joy into their lives.

A couple of years later the hope was doubled when they actually had a child their own. God’s timing was different from their timing. Then they were doubly blessed and didn’t know any of it was possible until it happened.

God can and will bless us in this world. Sometimes we get exactly what we hope for and sometimes it is something we never thought of, but we must not lose hope. When we do we open the door to the devil to begin his attacks. Good things can happen to us in this world, but we have to trust God knows the best timing for those things.

BALANCE OF HOPE

Sometimes we get stuck thinking,”God is just going to make things harder for us”. It is the idea that he has us suffer with the only reward being growth and refinement to our character. I think we get discouraged when we are constantly tested and begin to think that God may never bless us.

So, we become completely focused on the end game, which is unity with him in heaven. That is when we feel truly hopeless. We have hope that God will ultimately save us, but not give us anything in this world. That’s when we begin to see God as an overly stern parent that doesn’t give their children anything they want, but that’s not the character of Christ. In Job 23:10,”But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” 

But we have to believe that God will answer our prayers and fulfill our hopes, both in this world and the next. The crux of depression is the lack of hope. If we don’t have any hope that our lives can be better, than our lives never will be better. 

Remember Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”  Our hopes are rejuvenated by our faith, which is like believing without seeing. Sometimes our hopes aren’t realized, but we must trust in God’s goodness in those moments. Remember God is good and will not allow events in our lives that we can not handle.

Hope for all the options. The ones we can see and the ones we can not see. It is true, we will suffer in this world, but we are also designed to be joyful. I recommend This The Rescue for when you are feeling hopeless. I feel music can pull us out of our darkest moments. Also, I find a line by Florence + The Machine to be encouraging. It goes, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

How many places in the bible are there were all hope seemed lost and God came rushing in to save the day? How do you think the disciples felt after Jesus was crucified? Think about their how their hope was realized. Then think about how your hope will be realized. Just remember, the balance of hope is knowing that one day we’ll be with Jesus in heaven, but also the hope that he’ll bless us in this world, too. There needs to be hope in both.

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