Hope is the feeling that what is desired is possible and that events may turn out for the best. Or so says the dictionary. But the biblical concept of hope is far beyond this dim and sketchy definition of hope. The hope the Bible speaks of is robust and hearty, being rooted in putting our hope in the Word of God.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5
Beyond putting our hope in God’s Word is the biblical injunction to hope in God’s unfailing love. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait for the Lord; He is our help and shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy Name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we hope in You. Psalm 33:18-22
As you can see, hope in the Word of God and in His unfailing love is, as someone put it, a “done deal”. There is no need to wonder about the certainty of these sources of hope, They are immovable, immortal and unchanging. And yet, many of our counselees, when I tell them God is merciful and compassionate and will always be on their side, will look at me and say, “I hope so.” with a downcast face. This is the “hope” of many—a covered form of trying to trust God’s promises, but really trusting in expecting the same bad things to keep occurring that have occurred in the past—and trying to protect themselves by being “realistic”. This is the hope that will disappoint.
There is a grave mischaracterization of God in the hearts of those who have had a lot of pain in early childhood. It is impossible for a child to understand the law of free will and the fact that people can decide to sin and can hurt innocent children because of this. Then the children, as they are beginning to be aware of God, begin to think bad things about Him, because they do not understand His plan of free will for mankind. They accuse God of being uncaring and cold since He did not stop the evil acts that hurt them, but rather “allowed” it to happen to them. As we have taught for many years, allowing on the part of God did not mean it was His desire to have little children hurt and abused. It was not His desire in the first place to have man leave the sweet fellowship that was so intimately possible in the Garden of Eden, but man’s sin drove them out. God does not want robots to worship and serve Him, so He gave us all a choice to choose life and blessing or to choose death and curses and He recommends that we choose life and blessing. But man has free will, so God can see where his heart is—whether it is with God or with the world, the flesh and the devil.
No wonder people have trouble hoping in God’s unfailing love if they don’t understand these things. This is the stuff for adult consideration, and for many in homosexual bondage, the emotions keep the person in very young ungodly reactions to pain. (We have defined homosexuality as dealing with pain from the resources and perceptions of a wounded and alienated child.) But we have found that as these ungodly reactions are revealed to the person, uncovered, examined and rejected as the lies that they are, they can be uprooted through prayer and replaced with the truth.
Let’s look at some of the formulas for hope in the Word of God:
But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 15:4
So when we have hope, we must wait for what we hope for patiently, being joyful in our hoping and practicing endurance and looking to the encouragement of the Scriptures. Other clues about hope in the Word of God are:
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be jealous for the fear of God (reverential awe). There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:14
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
These are powerful scriptures to add to our treasury of lessons on hope. Many of us have envied sinners as we saw homosexual couples together, because we were still under the delusion that homosexuality was love, when it is actually sexual abuse. So, come to that reality and do not envy sinners, but rather pity and pray for their unrepentant state. Seek wisdom by asking God for it and don’t doubt that you have received it. Be sure of what you hope for and then you have faith without which you cannot please God. So hope is very important and brings great rewards.
I believe the greatest lesson on hope is found in the glorious passage of Scripture in Romans 5:1-5:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
This passage addresses the progression to firm and solid hope in God and His love—a hope that will not disappoint. The reason so few people truly come to this kind of hope is that at first when a new believer comes to God, there is great hope—hope that God will make everything right and good, and life will be filled with joy. But when trials come, the new believer draws back the hope, feeling God has now either departed from the promises He gave, or He is out to punish and ”get back” for the believer’s sins of the past. This then becomes a blockage to the growth God intends us to experience through trials and to the intimacy with God we gain by hoping in His unfailing love.
Romans 5 begins by showing the reason for us to rejoice. That reason is that through our Lord Jesus Christ we have received a free and full pardon for our sins and we continue to be justified (as if we had never sinned) by His influence in our hearts and His intercession for us at the Throne of God. It was only through Christ that we could first approach God and the lasting privilege of being in His Presence is through Jesus. We remain in a state of favor and acceptance, have a firm footing through the blood of the Lamb to the full salvation of God. This is the reason we rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. We are not only happy because we can commune with God, but we have the prospect of being eternally with Him. All glory to our great God for His mercy on us!
Right on the heels of these great reasons for joy and hope comes the hardest point for us to grasp and that is we also are to rejoice in our sufferings. To many people in our ministry, this does not make sense. They feel they have already had too much pain and suffering and their whole system shuts down to the great lessons that could be learned if the mind and emotions could be convinced of the power of this truth. Sufferings and trials, taken with patience as a tool of God to refine and strengthen us can make for solid hope in God. Suffering works for patience unless we turn against God and go into grumbling. There is the powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation and the trial.
Patience does us more good than suffering can do us hurt. Tribulation in itself works impatience, but as it is sanctified to the saints, it works patience. Patience is proved and improved by suffering as steel is hardened by the fire. Patience works an experience of God as the patient sufferers have the greatest Divine consolation. We also have an experience of ourselves as tribulation brings a test of our own sincerity. We then know we are approved as we pass the tests When we have been thus tested and tried, we come forth as gold and will thereby be encouraged to hope. And this proven and tested hope will not disappoint.
So all the sufferings we endure for the testimony of the Lord are so sanctified to us by His grace that they become powerful instruments of increasing our happiness. We do not speak about any sudden raptures or extraordinary sensations we may have of spiritual joy, but our finding that the tribulations we experience are the means to exercising and increasing our patience, our meek forbearance of injuries received or persecutions experienced on account of the Gospel. This is not the same suffering we had because of the abuse and humiliation of our childhood. This is suffering for Christ and His truth as we work to employ it in places where we have had ungodly reactions to pain. And after that work, we can learn a new level of suffering for Christ in the midst of persecution as a Christian.
The trial of the truth of our faith in God, the solidity of our Christian state and the faithfulness of God produces hope. We can see that He has supported us in this trial and will support us in trials to come. We have profited so much spiritually from this that we need not dread future trials, but look for more spiritual benefit if future trials come. We receive them as a means of grace and find that all things do work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purposes. We know that our hope will not disappoint us because His love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, we can see the precious by-products of such a hope:
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
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 upon 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. Jeremiah 29:11-13
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 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 my self, “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. Lamentations 3:19-25
Hope that Does Not Disappoint
by Joanne Highley