We live in a world where our hope is continually under attack and constantly being eroded. From a natural point of view, just read the newspaper or turn on the news and you hear stories that can eat away at your hope. From a spiritual point of view, we have an enemy who is intent on destroying hope in our lives. For that reason, we need to take care of our hope. We need to nourish it and strengthen it. Hope is never automatic; it doesn’t just happen. Hope is something we must maintain and grow. Hope is like a muscle; without the effort of exercising our trust, belief and faith in God, it will atrophy (waste away). Hope needs to be exercised if it is to remain strong.
So, what is hope? Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. It’s a feeling of trust.”
The Christian’s hope, however, isn’t just a wish, desire or a feeling; it’s a settled confidence in God and in His promises. The Christian hope is a continuing reliance, trust and faith-filled expectation in a loving God. Psalm 25:3,5,21 says, “No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame... Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long... May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”
Hope is not a magic word that ensures my every wish and desire is met and happens exactly how and when I would like. Hope means that no matter what happens, whether I receive the things I want or not, I will trust in God to always do what is right and best for me. Even when life ends my hope doesn’t end. Why? Because I know that God’s promises will be fulfilled. Our hope is in the promise of resurrection, forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Jesus Christ. That is my ultimate hope; it’s every Christian’s ultimate hope and it is the only hope that truly matters.
So, what is the ultimate enemy of our hope? Is it discouragement, suffering, pain, weariness, mental, physical or spiritual exhaustion? These things would certainly contribute to our loss of hope, but the greatest enemy to us sustaining and growing hope is time, or to be more accurate, passing time. It’s that period of waiting. That period between the process of God and the promise of God. It’s that period where we believe we have heard Gods promise, but then we wait, and we wait, and we wait - minutes, hours, days, months and even years for those promises to come to pass, and yet nothing happens (or so it seems). It’s in the corridor of our waiting that Proverbs 13:12 speaks into: “hope deferred makes our heart sick”.
And that’s true isn’t it? If you are like me, you start off waiting patiently for the promises and you do all the so-called right things and time passes by with apparently nothing changing. Or maybe the situation gets worse and your hope is slowly chipped away at until eventually you have none and your heart becomes so very sick. You just cannot muster up the faith to believe for it anymore, and even worse, you start to mistrust God and doubt that He said anything like you thought. This is a dangerous place to be because it always nearly ends up in us moving into flesh and doing our own thing to get things happening. It almost always ends up in mistakes that cost us dearly. It robs us of our peace, rest and joy. That’s why it’s essential to record every prophetic promise, word, picture or scripture God has encouraged you with, directly or through other people. You can’t trust your memory when hope is under attack.
What should we do when waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled so that we don’t lose our hope?
1) Look only to God. No one and else. Nothing else. According to Romans 15:13, he is the inspiration and source of all our hope: “Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! In this beautiful scripture, we see hope, joy and peace as a package. They are tied together by the cord of trust in God. Hope, joy and peace are the result of our total trust and reliance in God who works it all for our absolute good.
2) Accept Gods timing as perfect, and understand the season you are in. You always plant a seed in the right season and a period of time passes and then you get a harvest; never the other way around. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that “there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”
3) Rely on and trust God even if it seems nothing is happening. We are called to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5: 7). How do you walk by faith? You do it through obedience to whatever God has said. You keep doing what He said until He clearly says something else. You walk by faith by clinging to the dreams God has placed inside you. Don’t let them die. Walk with determination and courage on the path God reveals to you, even when it looks like nothing is happening and it doesn’t make sense. Don’t listen to the negative, demoralizing lies of the enemy. And believe me those lies will come.
4) Keep praying. Use the prophecies and the encouragements God has given you to warfare with. Maybe it’s time to practice fasting as a regular discipline, because it reveals just how desperate you are for God’s breakthrough. That’s what Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim 1:18 - “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well”
5) Keep worshipping God. Worship breaks through enemy activity around you. It keeps you in hope, joy and peace despite the delays and setbacks. Worship feeds your faith. So, raise a hallelujah in the presence of your enemy. It’s a great weapon to use.
6) Wait in faith and with patience. Which means feed your faith with the word of God. Declare His promises daily. This is the fuel of your faith. Listen to what God is saying through it, and only do what He says. Don’t rush ahead.
And then suddenly God breaks in, and breaks out, and breaks through, and you live in the richness and fullness of His promises. And the waiting was so very worth it. Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s Will. Then you will receive all that He has promised”