Tag Archives: Hope

Growing in God: Growing in Hope part 2

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we learned how important hope is – both the regular human hope in the midst of difficult circumstances, and the Christian hope in the resurrection and the eventual overturn of evil.  The Psalms are full of passages on hope, and advise many times for believers to hope in God.  This hope is not a wispy wish, but is something as strong as a rope on a life preserver. Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised.  It ties in with trust in God’s promises.   Hope doesn’t have a specific time-line, but it is future based, while faith believes more in the NOW.  Still, hope is an essential stepping stone to faith.

Hope is mentioned in the Bible 190 times. Some of those examples give us glimpses of hope as an anchor in stormy seas. One friend told me that she sees “hope as the anchor of the soul.”  Hope is also a stabilizer that gives courage, perseverance and in a sense, joy.  My friend Brenda shares that she believes hope is “that inner joy with motivation to expect that promised thing to manifest at any moment!”  This is after the occasional times of panic and weariness while we are waiting for resolution. Hope is like a reservoir of emotional strength, given to us by the Holy Spirit. Hope brings expectation in One who is bigger than ourselves.  After all, we are given a promise in Jeremiah 29 verse 11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  That hope includes restoration, healing and more.

Last week when I was writing on hope, I conducted a survey of my Facebook friends, asking them for their view of hope.  From folk musicians, I was given two great original folk songs about hope.  I played one of them by Eileen McGann, about looking up in hope, on one of  our Worcester Report shows on CWCP Radio.  And so, hope DOES cause us to lift up our heads, rather than look down and mourn. Hope reminds us that we have much to live for.  Not only do we have the future, but we have many gifts in the present – including friends, family, and so much more.

From non-Christians who doubt the existence of God, there was philosophical discussion about other faiths and philosophies, but not a personal view of hope.  The comment from one of them started with:  “Even though today, humanity experiences the best living conditions, greatest life expectancy, and easiest living with minimal pain and suffering in the history of mankind, life can still be unappealing to many people.  Indeed there are those (anti-natalists) who say life is not worth living at all and claim that it is immoral to bring children into the world.  Then he began to discuss religion as being a classic example of a coping mechanism. […] Hope is for those who struggle but lack the cognitive training for mindfulness. Those who don’t struggle may perhaps still hope to find a purpose in life.

When I mentioned that the current craze of superheroes also showed a strong measure of hope, I was given this answer:  Yes, fascination with superheroes is similar except people don’t think superheroes exist.  Well, it is true that the comic super-heroes may not exist, although try telling that to those who love to spend their lives in cosplay or in comic book conventions.   Do they have real hope, or are they happy to just bury their feelings and enjoy fantasy?  His wife shared that “hope can be (destructive) if it’s based on empty pipe dreams, but hope can also lead to meaningful actions that bring about the said hope. I’m thinking climate change if we as a species can pull our fingers out of our various orifices (including, but not limited to, our ears)!  This second view is on par with the folkie dream of a collective set of people coming together to make change.  This is a good thing to do in community for hope in our future generally.  However, it’s not the Christian concept of hope.   While this hope is supernaturally based, it’s also incredibly personal.   My friend Nano shared, “This winter I had a revelation of our Father God who just who enjoys me as his child so I can sing and dance with gratitude towards all He has done and all He will do. I remain open to new adventures while I pass through valleys of testing.  […]  Hope helps me rise above my circumstances knowing that I have a greater reward than anything the enemy tries to fling at me.”

Hope helps you to persevere, so your heart doesn’t get sick.  Two friends shared about not giving up.  One of them said, “Hope is never giving up.  Without hope, you have nothing.  Hope makes you move forward to the future.”  This was said by a lady who had persevered through incredibly hard times this past year, despite having a huge heart towards the downtrodden. She’s taking that hope with her this year, while walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

Hope also is part of completely relying on God.  My regular prayer partner Diane shared of her hope, the same hope that has grown her into a very strong woman. She said, “through many experiences where I needed to depend on God completely, I have come to believe in His promises, I know He has a plan for my life and my role in life is to fulfill it. Every day, I look forward to making a difference in the lives of the people I meet, and in speaking up for good and not for evil.”  So in Diane’s example, hope inspires.   And another friend reminded me of the deepest hope of all – Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Apostle Paul wrote about the precious mystery we carry inside us – like treasure in clay pots. We are the clay – and Jesus living in us through the Holy Spirit is the hope of glory.  We are God’s plan to love the world and show them Jesus.  There is no plan B. We are messengers and ambassadors of hope.   The NLT version finishes Colossians 1 verse 27 by adding that because Christ lives IN us, “this gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”   So in a way, God can be superhero through us, but it is really God who is touching the hearts and situations.  We’re just the vessel.

We have many reasons to hope. Let’s reorient the reasons in a simple way so we have something to take home with us for later.   David Murray compiled ten ways in which Christian hope helps us in our walk with God.   Hope moves us forward.  “Christian hope is a realistic expectation of and joyful longing for future good, based on the reliable word of God. The more we long for the future, the less we will yearn for the past. Hope deletes regrets and underlines expectation.  It increases momentum towards the future.”

Hope energizes the present.  Hope makes life worth living right now, because tomorrow is so much brighter.  Murray says that “what’s doomsday for most, is coronation day for us.”  We need not fear death, because it’s not the end.  Hope lightens our darkness.  Hope doesn’t deny the reality of painful circumstances.  Yet, it does shine a brilliant light into these valleys.  It points to the light at the end of them.  The saying, “it’s always darkest before the dawn” is a hopeful statement that reminds us to persevere a little longer, rather than be sorrowfully impatient.

Hope increases faith.  I mentioned earlier the connection of hope and faith – that hope proceeds faith.  I still believe that, yet faith is not just the end result of hope.  We are to continue in hope.  Murray says that “Faith fuels hope, but hope also fuels faith. As Hebrews 11 makes very clear, hope and faith are very closely tied together.  Both enliven the other. Without faith we cannot soar in hope, but without hope, faith will limp home. The greatest believers are the greatest hopers.”

Hope is infectious. We can drag others down by our complaints and sadness.  Yet we can also inspire and motivate others through our inspiring hope. This attitude encourages other sagging Christians, and it also impacts depressed unbelievers who cannot but ask a reason for the hope they see in us.  Remember that people watch us through our suffering, and see how hope buoys us up. 1 Peter 3 verse 15 says, to “always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.”  They need that hope too.

Hope brings healing.  When our friend Riana called me in the midst of my illness with the song “I raise a Hallelujah,”  she was used by God to bring me hope.  I didn’t understand at the time, for I saw it as a reminder that God is in control, even when I am not well.  It was a reminder that I had no reason to feel hopeless.  I would not always be sick.  Hope says, things will get better. There is a way out.  That hope is a step towards healing, and away from depression.

Hope is practical.  Hope isn’t passive.  We are not to just sit and wait for a perfect world to appear. No way. Hope motivates action. When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for our children to come to faith in Jesus, we are motivated to share the Gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more intently. Hope produces action.

Hope purifies.  During our last broadcast, I spoke about many Christians and Jews going through intense persecution. Whatever persecution we experience in this world, the day is coming when we will be more like the Son of God. This is what inspires and motivates the apostle to persevere to the end and to persevere in holiness.  Paul talked about knowing Jesus in the fellowship of his sufferings – and this is exactly what purifies us when we keep an attitude of hope. We grow stronger, purer, and people can see more of Jesus in us, because of the hope we have.  The apostle John shared in 1 john 3:1-3 that “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  Hope gives us the strength for the refiner’s fire.

Hope stabilizes us in the storm. David Murray shares that there “are sixty-six drawings of anchors in the [Roman] catacombs.” These are the caves and tunnels that persecuted Christians hid in during the Roman persecutions. Hope was their anchor during those dark and stormy days.  Hebrews 6 reminds us that “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong.”  The writer later shares in Hebrews 10:32-34 to the persecuted church of his time. “Remember those days in the past when you first learned the truth. You had a hard struggle with many sufferings, but you continued strong. 33 Sometimes you were hurt and persecuted before crowds of people. And sometimes you shared with those who were being treated that way. 34 You helped the prisoners. And you even had joy when all that you owned was taken from you. You were joyful because you knew that you had something better and more lasting.”

Like the anchor, hope grabs what is out of sight. One Puritan author uses a similar life preserver image: “The cable of faith casts out the anchor of hope and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises.”  So once again, faith and hope are connected, and as 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us, these two things are eternal, as is love.   John Piper believes that hope is actually an important component of faith, not just a stepping stone towards it.  He says, “faith can look back to [the beginning] as well as forward. So faith is the larger idea [or the container]. Faith includes hope, but is more than hope. You might put it this way: faith is our confidence in the word of God, and whenever that word points to the future, you can call our confidence in it hope. Hope is faith in the future tense.”

Speaking of storms, there is a connection between storms and our Cape of Good Hope near Cape Town.  Yes, it’s the south western tip of South Africa.  It’s not the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian oceans – that happens further east at Cape Agualas.  Originally this peninsula was named Cape of Storms by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias.  But instead a Portuguese king renamed the Cape “Good Hope” because of the major optimism that this sea route gave to Europe.  It opened an easier way to India and the Far East.  This king proclaimed a blessing on the tip of Africa.  And may this blessing bring more than commerce, but rather what a blessing should give.

And finally, Hope defends us. Paul also depicts hope as a defensive helmet to be worn in spiritual battle.  This helmet must not be taken off and laid aside until after the battle is over. This is shown in Ephesians 6:17, which the Passion Translation shares in this way: “ Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies.”  Lies are the opposite of hope.  Lies point us to the area of greatest vulnerability and danger – our mind or thoughts. This is where Satan usually works to give us reasons to doubt and despair. And this is why we need to daily renew our minds by the power of hope.

So hope is far more powerful that we previously thought.  Let’s remember the ten take-aways that hope gives us.  Hope moves us forward, so we don’t get stuck in our wallowing.  Hope gives us the energy to move.  You CAN do this.  Let’s encourage each other with hope to move on.   Hope lightens our darkness, so we can see our way forward.  Hope increases the faith that we have.

Hope is contagious – and this is where community spirit comes in.  The folkies love this aspect of hope for a great song.  But it IS true.  Hope brings healing – especially to the heart.  Hope and depression do not mix.  Hope is practical.  It does not sit passively, but works for the better.  Hope purifies us in the struggle, and especially in persecution. Hope stabilizes us in the storm, so we become stronger. And hope defends us against lies that drag us to doubt and despair.  So we do have a hope and a future.  We need only ask God for it.  He’s had it for us all along.

Lord, thank you for the deep hope that you give us.  I ask that you pour that hope into us, so that it overflows our hearts. Strengthen us, sustain us, pull us out of the mucky mud of complaining and bitter hurts. Lift our heads in hope, so we can see a glimpse of that future hope, as well as the hope you put in our hearts.  Grow our hearts to contain more.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this message, visit our podcast page on Coppleswesterncape.ca, and scroll down to #50.  You’ll also see a video clip that I refer to in that Doctor Who episode.

Blessings,
Laurie-Ann Copple

I’m also continuing chemotherapy here in South Africa.  We return to Canada to resume treatment in April 2020.  If you feel led to learn about L-A’s story and or pitch in, you can visit our medical campaign page.  You can also send whatever amount you’d like to sow to our Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod

Growing in God:  Growing in Hope part 1

Pastel drawing by Natalie, missionary to Sudanese

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last broadcast, we learned how important love is as the foundation of our lives – especially the agape love of God.  When we grow in love as his sons and daughters, we grow well.  We also learned of love languages and I challenged you to not only find out your own ways to best receive love, but also those of your spouse and friends.  In outreach, it goes further than that.  Can you imagine the inroads we would make in reaching out to those who hate us through their love language?   I also personalized the biblical love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.  When you stop and think about all the wonderful qualities of love – being patient, kind, not irritable, persistent and long-suffering, it appears even more real when we put our own names in love’s place.  How do we achieve those high goals?  We can’t.  Love’s goals are only possible with God’s love flowing from us.  That’s where the living water of the Holy Spirit comes in. He’s the one that gives us the compassion we need – for ourselves and others.

Near the end of 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that three things will last forever – faith, hope and love…”  Today I’ve been led to seek out hope. Hope to me is like a life preserver as you float on a sea of hard times.  Real hope is powerful, it’s not wishy-washy at all.  “Hope” is commonly used to mean ‘wish.’ In this context, its strength is the strength of the person’s desire.  But as shown in the Bible, hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised, and believing that he is faithful.  It ties in with trust.  Trust and hope are absolutely essential in progressing towards faith, which goes further in expectation.  Hope is future-based. Hope gives someone who is struggling in the midst of problems a positively-based goal that there will be an end to the problems and a better life ahead.  Pete Seeger wrote a folk ballad about this type of hope, and his song became a banner for the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  Read the words and hear their cry for hope:

We shall overcome, We shall overcome, We shall overcome, some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe,   We shall overcome, some day

We’ll walk hand in hand, We’ll walk hand in hand, We’ll walk hand in hand,
some day

We shall live in peace, We shall live in peace, We shall live in peace, some day
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe, We shall overcome, some day.

We are not afraid, We are not afraid,  We are not afraid,   today
Oh deep in my heart, I do believe, We shall overcome, some day.

These simple words, coupled with Martin Luther King’s speech of having a dream that showed racial equality, gave hope that difficulties do not last forever.  We will win the day.  God is in charge. There is no timeline of when the object of hope will intervene.  But there is an inner assurance that it will happen. How?  Partly, change can happen with community action, individuals being agents for change, and most importantly, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  How else should one live when in despair? God loves us and does not want us to stay in that state.  Our God is a God of hope.  Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future, it EXPECTS it to happen.

Hope is mentioned in the Bible 190 times. Some of these scriptures show human hope, such as positive desires for the future. Others show hope as a future goal. And many show God as their hope, in the form of the resurrection of the dead; as well as making things right in healing, and restoration.    Hope is given in the context of not dashing hopes: hope for a better future, hope giving courage, hope as promise, and hope as deep trust, as we depend on God. That kind of hope is like an anchor in stormy seas.  Hebrews 6:19 shares that hope in God in Christ is “a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.  It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”  This refers to Hope as essential for intimacy with God.

John Piper says that he loves the way that the psalmists wrestle, fight, and struggle to maintain their hope in God.  Often the unknown timeline puts a question mark in the minds of those seeking a way out, of their struggle. We want to say, “When, Lord? When?  Psalm 119:81 shares this anguish, when the Psalmist says,  “I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.”   But relax, there is nothing wrong with you feeling this way.  You haven’t failed, and God’s faithfulness is not at risk.  Our understanding of God’s time isn’t accurate. John Piper notes that this is a normal Christian experience.  We need to realize this is normal, or “else we may grow sluggish and negligent in our fight for hope.  And that is very dangerous.” Hope is like a reservoir of emotional strength.   May the Holy Spirit fill us with a deep reservoir of hope to sustain us as we look to him.   May we not run empty.  If we persevere in trusting the Lord, our hope will not disappoint us.

Biblical hope is not a mere desire for something good to happen. It is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. Biblical hope has moral certainty in it. When the Psalms say, “Hope in God!” it does not mean, “Cross your fingers.” It means, to use the words of William Carey, “to expect great things from God.”  William Carey was the father of modern missions, who endured much suffering as a pioneer in India.  Yet, when he turned to translating Indian languages, for both the Bible and Indian literature, his hope in reaching people was realized.  But Carey was right, biblical hope does include expectation in God – his character, his goodness, and his faithfulness to his promises.  After all, God has been called the Hope of Israel and the Hope of the Nations.  The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12:21,  shares that Jesus’ “name will be the hope of all the world.” We are given a promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  That hope includes restoration, healing and more.

I’ve been given prophetic promises for my healing, and yet, I’ve had a difficult summer full of skin diseases and viruses. However, in the midst of it, I’ve been encouraged with hope.  Our friend Riana leads the Sunday School at our church in Worcester.  She called to encourage me with the new Bethel song, “I raise a Hallelujah,” which is a song about a concert of prayer in the midst of a small child’s illness.  This child was at death’s door, and the worship leader felt hope and a determination rise in his heart, where he said NO to that child’s death.  That prayer was answered, and through this song of hope, many have been encouraged.  It’s already a well-loved song in many places across the world, including Avian Park.  The Bethel song video went viral on social media.  It gave people hope.  It reminded them that our God is a God of hope.  It reminded me in the midst of a painful rash of boils and carbuncles, that God was still in control, and that He would navigate me out of the suffering.  The hope was like a lasso to encircle me and pull me out of despair. In the North American west, and the Argentinean pampas, there are cowboys who help raise cattle.  Some cattle are lassoed to safety if they get out of step.  That is what God’s hope did with me. Another way of understanding this hope, is to imagine a swimming pool lifeguard throwing out a life preserver ring to a drowning person.  That ring is connected to the lifeguard by a floating rope.  There is help when you grab on to that ring, so you don’t sink in the water.

Job 5:15-16 share this hope. “He rescues the poor from the cutting words of the strong, and rescues them from the clutches of the powerful.  And so at last, the poor have hope, and the snapping jaws of the wicked are shut.  Psalm 10:17 shares, Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. “

Hope is a constant theme in the Psalms.  It’s one of the goals of restorying your situation for the better.  David often reminded himself to not continue in grief and depression, but to look up to God, to trust him and have hope in his faithfulness.

Psalm 42:11 shares David’s heart.  “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! He also asked God for his guidance and direction in Psalm 25:5. “Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”  Also, listen to Psalm 33:20, “We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.”  Hope points outside yourself towards the one who can help.

Currently, there is an obsession with superheroes – either the kind that arise from comics or those that arise from science fiction.  In these stories, Batman, Spiderman, the Flash, and Arrow all battle those who oppress the innocent.  In the case of my favourite science fiction show, Doctor Who, it is the same. The Doctor intervenes and saves earth and other planets from the monsters yet again.  One episode in season four of the new Who, has companion Martha speak to people all over the world about the Doctor. The people had been oppressed by evil Time Lord, the Master, who turned the earth into a slave state.  Martha was to instill hope in each person, so that they would think, and in a sense, pray for the Doctor’s intervention.

The Doctor was imprisoned in a cage for a year. But during that time, he patched himself into a world-wide satellite system that suppressed the thoughts, dreams and prayers of the entire population.  The Master had used this system to superimpose control over the people, as well as instilling fear from random killing.  Yet those satellites, under the Doctor’s control, could be reversed.  Instead, the people could think for themselves for one specific moment.  They all called out for the Doctor in their thoughts, and hoped for his intervention. Martha was captured on a false errand, and she was questioned by the Master in the Doctor’s company.  When she told him the real weapon she had to defeat the Master, he replied with contempt, “Is that your weapon, prayer?”  She said, “If everyone across right across the world, at one specific time thinks one word, one thought, one moment, but with fifteen satellites … and that word is, Doctor.”  Whovians know what happens next – the Doctor recovers, is released, and saves the day.  This episode is one of the strongest examples of the power of hope in that show.  If this hope is powerful, how much more would real hope be in a real and living God?  Psalm 65 verse 5 shares, “You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. Psalm 125:15 reminds us, “The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it.”  And so, Psalm 78:7 encourages us to pass on our hope to the next generation. “So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.”

Hope is still future-oriented, in difficult times.  So we must renew our hope, as we renew our minds. This requires active perseverance, despite moments of heartsickness, like Proverbs 13:12 which says,  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Psalm 143:4 shows panic in the moment by sharing, “I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.”  These moments are real, and while we are stuck in them, they can seem long.  Psalm 119:81 shares that the waiting can make one weary, “I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.”

Yet, we can take comfort that hope consoles; it gives strength and renewed joy. Psalm 94:19 shares, “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”  Psalm 146:5 reminds us that hope and joy are connected by sharing, “But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”   In short, the Psalms are full of hope.

The New Testament gives added depth to hope.  Now we have the element of hope in the resurrection; of God’s restoration after triumphing over evil.   Peter shared during Pentecost by quoting a prophetic promise of David.  David hoped in the Messiah.  Peter shared in Acts 2: 25-27, “King David said this about Jesus: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me.    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.”

David had proclaimed his hope that he would be raised from the dead, as well as hoping for the coming Messiah.   That same hope of resurrection at the ‘end of time,’ was a theme with the Apostle Paul, especially since it was a concept that the Pharisees believed in.  In Acts 26:6, Paul shares,  “Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors.”  This same hope fulfilled was echoed when Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:13, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”  Hope in the afterlife and restoration is the cornerstone of Christian hope.  This isn’t just about being saved from bad circumstances, but this is a complete reversal of evil in the world.

Meanwhile, we are to have hope while suffering.  No one is immune to difficulties, and suffering in different forms. Right now, persecution of Christians, and also of Jews has steadily increased.  There are more Christians who have died for their faith in the past 100 years than in all of history.  Jews are also targeted, as they have been for centuries.  It wasn’t just the Holocaust and the pogroms.

Ministries like ‘Open Doors’ and ‘Voice of the Martyrs’ share about the countries where it is dangerous to be a Christian.  I was in one of these countries; Pakistan.  I ministered with refugees from another country: the Somalis.  But there are so many more suffering people.  Has persecution stopped the growing Christian underground movement in China or Iran?  No, on the contrary, it’s only increased it.   Paul shares in Romans 5:3-5, that “ we can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials; for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Hope also sustains, especially if you keep your mind and heart focused.   Don’t keep your eyes on your circumstances.  Paul shares a prayer in Romans 15:13.  He says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”   He shares another prayer in Ephesians 1:18:  “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”

It’s good that hope brings comfort, joy and sustains us.  It also brings us purpose.   As Christians, we have a purpose in our identity as sons and daughters. We are not orphans.  Paul shares in Ephesians 2:12 that in previous days, “you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.”  When people around us see that we are not fearful or in despair due to what is happening in the world around us, they ask us why we are hopeful, and how we can cope.  We’re not just coping.

The closer you get to Jesus, the more you thrive; although the journey isn’t easy.  Peter shares in 1 Peter 3:13-15 about persecution.  “ Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

In the midst of sharing our hope in God’s promises, we are given the same endurance as the great heroes of our faith.   Hebrews 6:10-12 share that we are given perseverance.  A strong component of hope is to stay steadfast. This is not wishful thinking, but it is powerful.  This is the type of hope a missionary feels when they are loving and pouring into the people in their lives.  God strengthens those who stay the course, as well as those who receive hope in Jesus through them.  Here’s the passage: “  For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers,[a] as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”

So let us join with the writer of Hebrews, when he says in chapter 10:23–24: 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

So hope has a component of strengthening us with the perseverance we need to carry on – in life, in work, in relationships, and in our faith.  Is hope a stepping stone to faith?  I believe it’s a part of it.   Earlier I mentioned that hope to me is like a life preserver as you float on a sea of hard times. It is future focused, with an assurance that we will be rescued. Faith is more like walking on the water of that same sea.  Both are a journey that grow us deeply.

The writer to the Hebrews shares in Hebrews 11 verse 1, that “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  So hope is the springboard to faith.  Wherever there is full assurance of hope, there is faith. Faith is the full assurance of hope.  We’ll journey together more about hope in our next broadcast.   Perhaps we’ll take a visit to our own Cape of Good Hope, here in the Western Cape.

Lord, thank you that you are indeed the God of hope, the God of Israel, and the hope of the nations.  We thank you for your preserving power that gives us strength despite difficulty, and your comfort in the midst of suffering.  Lord, fill us with your hope that will reorient us in you.  Deepen our anchor, so that we won’t be shipwrecked in the middle of the storm.  Like the Bethel song, We raise a hallelujah in the middle of the storm.  Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear our praises roar.  Up from the ashes, hope will arise.  Death is defeated; the King is alive.

May all who hear my voice now have hope rise within them.  Carry them Lord, through their difficulties.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this devotional, visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on our Copples Western Cape mission site and scroll down to #49.  Enjoy.

Blessings and may you have a joyful Christmas!
Laurie-Ann