Driving home a few days ago, I was greeted by the most wonderful burst of colour at a roundabout not far from our current home. Daffodils are one of my favourite flowers, not just because of their vibrant colour. For someone who doesn’t like winter very much, (yours truly), they are a welcome sign that spring is here. Finally.
I let out a loud whoop! whoop!, as I negotiated the roundabout, caring little how strange the sight of a not-so-young woman pumping the air with one hand might have seemed to an onlooker. If you have been in a season of barrenness, as winter often is, literally or metaphorically, the smallest sign that the season might be over has the potential to make you ecstatic with joy. Well, perhaps an exaggeration, but I am merely trying to make a point.
That is exactly what hope is – the silver lining in what can sometimes be a very dark cloud. As Christians we have somehow underestimated the power of hope. In my work as a GP, I have dealt with countless numbers of people who have become clinically depressed and need help climbing out of the dark hole they find themselves in. Often in these people, hope has turned into despair and facing each day has become an almost insurmountable task. People who have experienced depression know the importance of hope and the ramifications of being without it. Sometimes it could be the difference between life and death – literally.
The Bible has a lot to say about hope. The question is, are we taking any notice of what God has to say?
Hope is an anchor for the soul(Hebrews 6:15). When life feels like being on board a ship in a storm, an anchor will keep you secure.
Hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:5). When our hope is in God and His promises, then we will always emerge victorious regardless of the circumstances.
It is the blueprint of, and starting point for faith(Hebrews 11:1). Without hope faith is at best wishful thinking or at worst a pipe dream.
When hope is deferred, our hearts become sick with disappointment. On the contrary when we see something we have hoped for fulfilled, we come alive (Proverbs 13:12).
Hope makes even the most timid person bold (2 Corinthians 3:12). It’s like playing poker when you know you hold the winning hand (or similar analogy if you don’t play poker – I don’t).
And finally, God delights in those who put their hope in His unfailing love(Psalm 147:11).
The difference between winning and losing when you are faced with a challenging situation could be the degree of hope you have in the God that can rescue you. There are lots of stories of Bible heroes who never gave up hope that God would heal them, deliver them, provide for them, or fight for them. We would do well to remind ourselves of these heroes when we find ourselves tempted to despair.
One of the reasons hope is such a powerful weapon of warfare is because as long as we can maintain a hope that victory will be ours at the end of the day, we are motivated to keep fighting instead of quitting. The one thing that will always guarantee losing the battle is quitting. You can’t win a fight you are not even in. The enemy knows that. So he tries to convince us to give up the fight. Despair lessens our resolve. Sooner or later, the one without hope will give up and give in.
Let me remind you that the God of hope Himself lives inside you by His Spirit. Yes, sometimes He does not have your full attention, because you are focussing on what is going on around you rather than on the One that lives inside you. But the minute you recognise that hope is not just a force, but also a Person, One that lives inside you, you will stand your ground and refuse to budge.
And the best thing about hope? It is contagious. People around you will see the hope in you, and hope will start to arise in them. Despair will be shown the door, as the God of hope is welcomed into their lives and circumstances.
Where in your life do you need a divine exchange of despair for hope? Just like the Bible heroes, you too, can become a prisoner of hope as you allow the author of hope, Jesus, change your perspective. Then you can say with the Psalmist,
Yes my soul, find rest in God
My hope comes from Him.
And with the Apostle Paul
This hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us…