I didn’t take the time to discuss it with my parents or even tell them where I was going. Within the large arena, I leaped out of my seat and ran toward the stage. I was running to Jesus.
My mother called my name and begged me to stop. As I looked back at her, a sea of people began to fill the gap between mother and me. Normally, this would have been freighting for 7 year old child, but it didn’t seem to matter. I was captivated by the words of the evangelist as he described Jesus as the Savior of the world. The pull of Christ’s invitation “to come to him” was much stronger than the fear of being separated from my mother. I kept running toward Jesus.
That divine night, the Lord opened my eyes and helped me to understand His message of hope and Jesus became my Lord and Savior. At that very moment, I felt the love of God being poured into my heart in such a way I sobbed with joy until strings of snot hung from my nose. No, it wasn’t pretty, but that didn’t matter. I had Jesus! That’s not all… I had a hope and a future.
1 Peter tells us that Believers are born anew to a living hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to his great mercy, has caused us to be born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
From that verse, we learn that the aim of God in restoring sinners is to give them a living hope. That’s the good news. The bad news is we are also born into a battle to maintain the assurance of the hope as we live in a fallen world. We see this truth all around us today even though Christ gave us this hope. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:32). Jesus is saying that finical trouble will come, our health will falter, children may rebel, and loved ones will die…but He has overcome it all. Christ is bigger than any trouble you and I face.
Yet, the battle to maintain our hope is on. In the midst of a failing economy, massive layoffs, job loss, foreclosures, and bank failure many are losing hope. News reports tell us that the number of people who are seeking unemployment benefits have risen to levels not seen since 1982. This kind of despair is causing more than it should when unlikely people are committing crimes or taking their own lives.
While trouble may surround us, we are not alone. We cannot be hedged in because we are not without help. You and I have a great support. God is our helper. We don’t have to be perplexed, uncertain, or concerned about our future. God has promised to deliver us when we put our hope in Him. Where do find hope in God? We find it in His Word.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
There are three truths of hope in this verse we can cling to.
1. All the Scriptures are for our instruction. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. You and do not have to go it alone. We don’t have to guess at life or wring our hands in worry over a decision to be made. God is our counselor!
2. All the Scriptures are intended by God to give steadfastness and encouragement. I love the encouragement found in Isaiah 40:31. “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.” Steadfastness means endurance. It’s what you have to have to keep on going when you feel miserable and when you meet all kinds of opposition. Your opposition may be that sandpaper person you work with, or your marriage. Maybe it’s your job, or the loss of a relationship. We have this hope. Those who hope in the Lord will endure, be strengthened, and not grow weary. Remember, it took endurance for the snail to make it to Noah’s Ark.
3. All the Scriptures have this goal: to sustain our hope. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “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.” The bible is full of stories about people who accomplished great things even when their faith was stretched beyond what they thought they could stand. These stories benefit our lives and provide us with hope when we read them, believe them, and follow their example.
You see, friend, living hope isn’t what you’d expect. It’s not wishful thinking like, “I wish I would win the lottery.” Or “I hope I don’t gain weight.” It’s much greater than that! Hope isn’t something you and I do either. It’s not something we muster up in our own strength. No. When you and I place our faith in God to do what we can’t, hope is what we receive in return.