A hope that does not disappoint

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When life dishes up disaster, it’s all too easy to become spiritually despondent. It’s during these times we discover the truth about who we are and who we truly trust in. Whether your pains are the result of your own actions or sent by the Lord, your spiritual state of health will always show itself.

A hope that does not disappointPain from unattended struggles can overwhelm you into thinking life will never be what it once was. In such times you need an unmovable spiritual rock to rest on.  An unshakable relationship which is not dependent upon your performance but survives entirely upon the other carrying you.

As a believer, you need to recognise that your circumstances can never change God’s nature. Simple faith, simple hope, confesses above all else that “…you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalms 86:15). Faith energised hope worships before it requests, it praises before it complains, and it waits instead of seeking self-solutions.

Joseph Hart (1712-1768), penned the following lyrics. His understanding of God’s trustworthiness is clear and simple.

How good is the God we adore
Our faithful, unchangeable friend
His love is as great as His power
And knows neither measure nor end
‘Tis Jesus the first and the last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home
We’ll praise Him for all that is past
And trust Him for all that’s to come.

Hope with design

You see, hope which is squarely fixed in Jesus Christ as Lord does not disappoint . When all else in life fails, you can trust in the holy character of God.

What’s more, the psalmist assures us that the Lord’s attention is captivated by those who fear Him. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalms 33:18-19). Rather than focus on a desired outcome, God’s steadfast love” should be in focus. The emphasis is on the eternal things first, and earthly matters second. Obviously, survival is important to us, and God knows best how to accommodate all your needs in this life and for eternity.

You see, the psalmist recognised God’s control over the timing of life’s events. He recognised God’s ability to restore the quality of your life to precisely where He wants you. He also knows how best to change and equip you with a mind wanting to praise Him. “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Psalms 62:5-6).

Humility is significant

Humble faith recognises and trusts God as the source of hope. Therefore, hope is patient with its author; knowing that He’s rock solid in His determination to fulfil His will for you. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Saviour is constantly training and equipping you for future works which you are presently unaware of (Heb 12:11).

I encourage you to place your desires for the future in the Lord who governs that future, and suffering shall be put in perspective under His care. We hope in God more than we hope in our circumstances. We trust Him to restore us so that we shall “…again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalms 42:5-6). I encourage you to invite the Lord Jesus Christ to grow within you a hope that does not disappoint.  Consequently, hope honours the Lord, it strengthens others, and it shall lift you up.

Hope can abound above pain

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Hope which abounds is a wonderful thing. The apostle Paul explains hope this way; “let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Faith, love, and hope are a formidable spiritual trio! When the Holy Spirit infuses these within you, your whole world changes; your focus becomes fixed firmly on the Lord Jesus Christ with all else becoming secondary. Hope starts at the cross. Salvation is the beginning of authentic and eternal hope in Jesus Christ.

Hope can abound above painHope can exist in both the saved and unsaved alike, although the focus of both is different. For the believer, hope is focused in a person; and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul acknowledged that the Thessalonians were known for their “work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Therefore, the present outcome of hope for the believer is of secondary importance, giving preference to the person of their hope.

For the unsaved however, their hope is focused in things, human relationships, and favourable outcomes to circumstances, wealth, possessions, or maybe achieving personal goals. Solomon sums up the result of mortal hope which unbelievers have; “…his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too” (Proverbs 11:7). Mortal, worldly hope lacks the ability to deliver anything beyond the grave.

That said; believers often struggle with two perplexing issues when suffering difficulties. Job speaks of the first; “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfil my hope” (Job 6:8). Sometimes God’s children feel as if their prayers are unanswered or somehow overlooked, especially during painful periods. One of the challenges with prayer is that we invariably have expectations of God. So, when He does not respond the way we expect, we create our own struggle.

Second; when we don’t feel the positive emotions expected during life’s trauma, we can become despondent. These emotional shortfalls are often amplified by society’s focus on comfort. Our culture justifies complaining when discomfort occurs. Frequently discomfort is interpreted as being wrong or even evil.

This mindset is exacerbated by only thinking of pain as negative, destructive, and of no value. Therefore, it’s often concluded that discomfort must come from our arch enemy. This line of thinking is quite wrong; it’s unproductive, self-destructive, and dishonouring of God.

Listen to how Paul prayed for the essence of genuine hope to be active in the lives of the Roman believers. “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” (Romans 15:13).

  • God is not only the source of spiritual hope; He is the essence of hope, with His Son Jesus Christ being the embodiment of hope.
  • Hope has the capacity, by Holy Spirit power, to fill you. That is, to be the controlling influence.
  • Controlling hope is able to overshadow pain, fear, and doubts, with joy and peace. This occurs through the God gifted mechanism of belief. Believing is an intelligent, and conscious, faith choice.
  • The Holy Spirit instills hope which abounds. That is, hope energised by the Holy Spirit has the capacity to be better than, and to overrule the pains of life.
  • This happens as you “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).

I encourage you to seek authentic hope which abounds above the pains of life, in Christ.

Hope in the Lord when you feel hopeless

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The Bible records Job’s severest tragedy, yet hope was present in spite of his desperate feelings. Job experienced utter despair; having lost every earthly possession, having lost all his children to death, and himself abandoned on the local rubbish heap diseased and covered in sores. As if that were not enough, Job was plagued by 3 self-righteous would-be friends who tormented him with cutting words. Here, Job confronts us with words which humanly speaking, are perplexing.

Hope in the Lord when you feel hopelessIn his lengthy admission, Job understood that ultimately the Lord had orchestrated his nightmarish circumstances. Job confessed; “Though he (God) slay me, I will hope in him…” (Job 13:15a). This short statement claws at every emotion, feeling like a violation of our understanding of God.

Although Job felt as if God was slowly taking his life, there are two truths which stand out from his words. First; God is always sovereignly in control over life’s events, even the ones that seemingly threaten to destroy us. Even in cases where, like Job, Satan is robbing you of everything in the most painful manner possible, remember; even Satan can only work within the boundaries set by the Almighty. There is no point where God does not know, when He does not understand, and He is not able to work out His purposes through your circumstances.

There is no point during pain when the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the soothing balm of God’s written Word is not at your immediate disposal. As the Psalmist says; “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (Psalms 119:50). Scripture is full of promises which fuel the believer’s hope of eternal life. Our relationship with the Lord does not change because our circumstances have changed. The fact is; “…you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15). The intimate and eternal nature of the believer’s relationship with the Father can never change due to circumstances.

Second; Job tells us that no matter how severe the disaster, God is the one you and I are to hope in. Hope in God is to supersede any perceived personal rights or expectations. God got you to where you are, and it is God who shall take you past your present situation. Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord will provide), is a provider by nature, and He alone is able to synchronise His purposeful will with your life. His timing is usually different to our timing. Likewise, His methods are usually very different to ours. However, His goals are also much higher than ours.

I’m sure you noticed; Job was not hoping in karma, self-determination, or social support. No, Job knew his only legitimate hope was that God would either take Him to the glory of Heaven, or turn his situation around for the better. As we read on; “the Lord restored the fortunes of Job…” (Job 42:10a). Following the nightmare, Job’s life was restored and made better than before.

Job knew that should the Lord provide escape by relocating him to Heaven, His ultimate hope would be fulfilled. Listen as he explains; “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold…” (Job 19:26-27). What we would possibly consider to be a tragedy, Job considered to be his greatest expectation fulfilled. He would have been satisfied.

As hope is not an emotion, but a choice, I encourage you to hope in the Lord when you feel hopeless.

Mercy changes entire lives

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I invite you to give thought to how the Lord’s mercy changes lives. You see, at the very least, it was His mercy which compelled Jesus to the cross of Calvary in place of sinners. His love moved Him to give; not simply to give from the things He possessed, but to give Himself entirely.

Mercy changes entire livesConsider for a moment, how God, who is “rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Put simply, God’s compassion for we sinners motivated Him to act outside of time and space. He did this by placing us in Christ while we were still dead in our sin awaiting regeneration by the Holy Spirit. This enormous act was done by grace because, we were not yet repentant, we were so overwhelmed by sin that we had no spiritual life within us which would enable us to repent.

God is mercy perfect. His mercy shows unrelenting compassion. It’s not soft thinking, but it is soft hearted. It’s not gullible, but it’s wise in assessing situations and people. It’s not unforgiving, but it is thoughtful as to how it works forgiveness out. God’s mercy constantly looks for the best way to express itself in order to maximise the Lord’s glory. For us, this means God initiates all the required changes in our lives, beginning before salvation, even before He created the world (Eph 1:4).

So, our entire relationship with God, from beginning to eternity, is totally dependent upon God and His mercy. All the necessary changes in our lives are compassionately and invisibly orchestrated by the Lord; motivated and governed by mercy.

When David was given the option of being disciplined by man or God for his sin, David said; “let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” (1 Chronicles 21:13). David’s attitude had changed and grown in understanding of the nature of God. This enabled him to make a decision that best honoured the Lord. He understood that at the heart of Yahweh’s holiness is mercy, compassion that calculates and synchronises justice with love.

Mercy is never stagnant or stationary, standing off at a distance. Rather, it moves, it draws near so it can do something. We see this best in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

The difference between God and us is this; God’s intrinsic nature and desire is merciful. However, for us, mercy does not come naturally. Humans require mercy to be introduced from an source; and that source God the Holy Spirit. This change begins for us at the cross of Calvary with salvation.

Celebrate your merciful God

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When the Lord passed before Moses on Mount Sinai, He declared the very essence of His character to Moses with unmistakable clarity. Listen as the Almighty speaks; “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6). This is who God is, what He is like, and how He defines His own nature.

Celebrate your merciful GodNow, listen as the Lord continues in the same sentence to reveal how He expresses His character to mankind. This is holy character in action; “…keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” (Exodus 34:7a). This is how God behaves flowing out of  who He is.

You and I would not have the ability to appreciate how merciful God is if it were not for three things; our sinfulness, God’s holy wrath, and the gracious intervention by the Holy Spirit to bring us conviction of sin, faith and salvation.

Sin, which is rebellion against God’s holiness, takes you as far away from the Lord as needed in the hope that you will forget Him. Whereas God’s holy wrath reminds you of His sinless perfections which demand justice of sinners. To which sin responds by getting the sinner to wish God out of existence as He is irrelevant to sins purposes for your life.

When Israel confessed their sin in Nehemiah chapter 9, Nehemiah made some amazing statements concerning how the Lord treated Israel. Even in times of divine discipline, Nehemiah says of God; “in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God” (Nehemiah 9:31).

Nehemiah recognised life sparing mercy.  By nature, God is a Saviour. He is incredibly patient with rebellious sinners who think that by ignoring the Lord, this makes Him go away – WRONG! On this occasion, Israel rightly confessed of the Lord; “you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly” (Nehemiah 9:33).

As many of us can testify, mercy steps in to draw sinners to repentant faith in the Saviour, resulting in obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord.

As mankind has no ability to break the vicious cycle of sin within, God mercifully steps in to take over the life of a sinner. This begins at the cross of Calvary, where “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

For those of us who have walked with the Lord for a while, remember the Lord’s mercy. Should you stumble in sin, remember that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Christ is our security, our only hope, and our only joy in the dark times of life.

I encourage you to celebrate your merciful God; speak well of your Saviour today. Introduce the mercy of God to someone today and allow them to taste the sweetness of Jesus Christ and His love. Walk them to the Cross and help them to look up at their Saviour. Introduce them to Jesus Christ who is their substitute on that cross.

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