The Power of Hope

Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God’?  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 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 40:27-31 (NIV)

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(Here’s a disclaimer up front:  I do not consider myself to be a political person as I do not believe the political process of any nation can provide the solution that people desperately need.  My prayer is always for leadership that allows me to live peaceably in a way that I can represent Christ most effectively.  With that said, here’s some prayerful thoughts following the primary election process in my home state.)

As I noticed many very discouraged social media posts overnight and this morning from friends and acquaintances,  my mind was drawn to singing words from an old hymn as I cleaned the building this morning: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.  On Christ, the solid rock I stand — All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”  Many people reading this are likely familiar with Isaiah 40:31 and cling to the promise of soaring on wings like eagles and overcoming weariness.  I do wonder how often we allow our eyes to notice the words prior to verse 31?  How often do we give serious thought to these promises being made to “those who hope in the Lord” or “those who wait upon the Lord” — depending on the translation you read?  God gives these promises through the prophet Isaiah to a nation who feels abandoned by God, to a people who think that God has turned away and disregarded them.  As we read scripture we know the story, and that characterization of God is not accurate.  History repeatedly shows us that God never abandons His people but that people always accuse God of such when they walk away from Him.  

I know that, for me, the greatest discouragement I face comes when I have put my hope in something, or someone, other than God and then that something, or someone, fails me.  When those times come, it is often difficult to discard the broken pieces and wait upon the Lord with confident expectation (hope) that He will sort through them and make us whole again.  I wonder how different our communities would be if every person who is a disciple of Jesus would put as much, or more, time, energy, effort, and resources into making Christ known as they have/do in making their preferred political candidate known.  When it feels like all hope is lost, it is likely that our hope has been misplaced.  I know that there are times when all of us feel “hard pressed on every side”, but even in the midst of that we should take courage and be filled with hope because of the treasure we carry in these “jars of clay”.  It is this hope, and this treasure, that is the foundation for the title of this blog site that I write on.  Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NIV): “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.”

I pray that you and I would learn to patiently wait upon the Lord when we face times of discouragement and disappointment.  I pray that we would repent of times when our hope has been placed on anything but the blood of Jesus and His righteousness.  I pray that we would actively make Christ known as we wait for His refreshing of our lives and of our land.  I pray that we would not only live with hope, but that our lives would brightly reflect the confident expectation that we have in Christ.  

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