Karen was distracted during her morning walk, not by the beautiful autumn oranges and reds that decorated the maple trees, but by a deep and consuming thought. Was the pastor right? Yesterday he’d said that going through life attempting to create hope based on ourselves was simply enduring life. This was confusing to her because over the years she’d read many books proclaiming they held the secret to living a hope filled life. Some preached that saying a positive affirmation daily would change lives. Others insisted that quietly sipping a cup of tea daily would add hope, peace, and a positive attitude; while still others claimed yoga would do the trick. Some declared a written life plan read daily and adjusted frequently would bring about a strong hope for the future.
However, yesterday the pastor said that these practices didn’t have the power to sustain and encourage one through the difficult times of life because they’re based on humans and humans are remarkably inconsistent. Now, he maintained there’s nothing wrong with any of these practices, it’s that they lack true power to provide constant hope. And since they’re lacking true power we end up enduring life’s hardships rather than living with hope through them. Living with true hope is a gift from God.
The pastor asked the congregation “where does the true power of hope come from?” then waited a moment before answering “God’s Word. You see, hope based on God’s Word is a hope grounded in theology not human whimsy. The Bible is God’s promises to humanity and they’ve stood the test of time; they are greater than you and me. God’s promises surpass human understanding. When we appreciate and believe this truth we are free to live with hope daily; God’s unchanging hope.” The pastor then read Lamentations 3:21 -25 “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”
The pastor went on to say that God’s hope is a byproduct of trusting in Him. That each day His mercies are offered new to us, His children, when we place our hope in him. Actively, we need to choose to trust in God in all situations and He will give us hope through His word.
Karen considered all the years she’d attended church and how this idea of basing her daily hope on God’s promises had escaped her. Did she live with daily hope? Hope that good not evil would reign in her life? A crisp breeze ruffled the hem of her jacket and she absent-mindedly pulled it closer to her body. After some contemplation she decided that typically she relied on her own inner strength to get through hard times; after all she’d weathered a lot of difficulties over the years. However, this practice of self-reliance had left her constantly fearing what the next trial might bring. She’d become a worry-wart with a deep inner fear of what might happen to her family next and whether she’d have the strength to weather the storm. Sadly, she had to admit she was enduring life even though she attended church, said positive affirmations, and practiced yoga.
Reaching deep into her jacket pocket she pulled out the printed list of bible verses that addressed God’s promises given out yesterday at church. Carefully, she read down the list. Jeremiah 29:11 – 13; “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Karen pondered this verse for a while. It was saying God had specific plans for her and they were plans for good not evil. “If I said this verse everyday instead of a positive affirmation I’d feel more secure, more hopeful.” She thought. Sitting down on a park bench she continued reading.
Romans 5:3 -4; “not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love had been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”
Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Psalm 42:11 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Hebrews 6:18 – 19; “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”
Romans 15:13 “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 abound in hope.”
Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen.”
Karen read through the list several times letting God’s promises of hope warm her soul. “Yes” she thought, “these are my new daily affirmation, God’s word gives me something greater than myself to believe in and that’s comforting.
May you find daily hope in God’s promises.
Debora Shelford Hobbs