HOPE is one of my favorite subjects, you can probably tell.
Maybe it’s because it’s such a personal journey of mine, maybe it’s because we need an antidote for the overwhelming hopelessness in the world.
Think with me for a second, about what it was like when Jesus lived here. There was something so different about Him, His teaching and His demonstrations of love were unlike anyone had ever seen.
In Mark 1 (the Bible), we read that He couldn’t enter towns because the crowds were too big and oppressive. Jesus had to stay outside populated areas where less people recognized him. Still, people came to find Him from everywhere.
This meant that the very sick, the ones confined to bed, the hopeless ones felt something they didn’t know was possible … a powerful jolt of hope.
Wait, what? He’s healing everyone?
Every kind of illness?
Nobody leaves Him still sick?
You mean …. I might not have to stay this way?
The rising hope inside them would enable them or their loved ones to act.
Truth always forces a choice. Would they let hope drive them to take action? Or would they let hopelessness win and decide their case was impossible?
We must get to Him.
We read the stories. Desperate parents pleading for their children, the woman who touched His hem, the friends who lowered the lame guy right through the roof, the blind man who cried out, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” The ones who acted on the urge of hope received from Him.
We have the same choice today: accept our impossible circumstances, believe what the doctors say (which is sometimes inferior information) or choose hope. Choose expectation.
Why do we think God only wanted to heal back then?
Is He not the Healer?
Has His character ever changed?
[Rhetorical questions. See Exodus 15:26 “For I am the LORD, Your Healer.”
and Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”]
A couple of years back, if I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while, I had a brief habit of casually describing that our son and family had “been though hell.” (If you are unfamiliar with our son’s health battle, you can read more here.) It felt indeed true to me and it just plain felt satisfying and edgy to say. One day when I was about to say it, His voice stopped me mid-sentence:
I don’t want you to say that anymore. It’s not accurate.
He went on to tell me about hell, which is a real place. The real horror of hell being not the horrific environment, but that it is a place of permanent, utter hopelessness.
In my darkest places, in your darkest places on earth we are never without hope. Jesus came and gave His life to abolish hopelessness in every form. In fact, if we know Him then hopelessness is off-limits.
Hope is not a feeling. It’s a by-product of close relationship with God, knowing who He really is. It comes from focusing on what He is saying which overrides anything we can see.
It’s a process of ignoring what we can see in favor of what we can’t.
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
We only do this if we are in a place where our natural, visible circumstances are horrible, or at least not solvable by human effort. Without unsolvable circumstances we don’t naturally seek a higher, more powerful reality. If we could fix everything ourselves we wouldn’t need hope at all.
Hopelessness causes us to lose our will to fight while the answers we seek slip further away. Hopelessness leads to more hopelessness, sucking the life out and burying us.
Impossible circumstances will either drive us to hopelessness OR hope.
It’s a daily, sometimes hourly choice.
Choose the thrill of hope.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…