Hope: It's a Four Letter Word
Hope is a misused word. Often times, we throw around the word hope and apply it to trivial things that don't really matter. Hope is defined as "a feeling of expectation and a desire/goal/plan for a certain thing to happen." It sounds like a wonderful thing, and it is. But, what happens when what you expect and plan and desire doesn't happen? What then? What happens when hope is lost or forgotten because of life's circumstances and suffering? At that point, hope becomes a point of pain and anger - a four letter word that cuts to our core when we are reminded of how it didn't happen as we had hoped it would.
When God puts a desire in our hearts, it's really difficult to not be caught up in it. After all, it is good if God has put it there. But, I think we can put ourselves in grave danger when we begin to hope in things instead of for things. Our hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the living hope. First Peter 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (ESV). Check where your hope lies - in our Savior or in His many blessings and provisions. The Word says that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4, ESV). The word delight in this context can be translated as "to be happy about, to make merry over, to make sport of." It isn't something we do to just check off another day of our Bible plan or because we think it will make us a better person. We should be happy about spending time with the Lord, and we should make sport of it - in other words, make it a habit. The closer you are to Jesus, the more His desires for you will become your desires. And, He longs to give us those desires, but we must put Him first.
From Jesus comes all hope. Jeremiah 29:11 says, " 'For I know that plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope' " (ESV). He knows the plans He has for us. How wonderful that someone does! If we truly believe that God is good and if we truly believe that He has plans for us, then we should believe that the plans He has for us are good. I'm not saying by any means that we will not have disappointments or suffering in life. But if we truly believe in the sovereignty of the Lord, then we will trust that He will work all things together for the good of those who are loved and called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28, NIV) - even the painful things - nothing is wasted. Romans 5:2-5 says, "Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (ESV). When the trials and pain and suffering come knocking on our door, those who have delighted themselves in the Lord and put Him above all else will not lose hope because our hope is rooted in Jesus.
If you're going through something that seems hopeless, practice this verse: "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12, ESV). I promise you that He will never let you down. He is faithful to His Word and His promises. He cares about you and He sees you. Hope again - in the love and person of Jesus Christ. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may about in hope" (Romans 15:13, ESV).