Hope. How? If you have ever felt even slightly akin to Job, you can understand this question, and you probably can even relate to his lament, “where then is my hope-who can see any hope for me?” Job 17:15. At times like this in life, it is easy to get discouraged, overwhelmed, and defeated. But surely that’s not what God wants for us. Yet, the question remains. Hope. How?
I told a friend, this morning, that I wanted a protocol, a step by step set of instructions as to how to achieve this hope and cheerful endurance James 1:2-4 talks about. And as much as I would like to tell you she gave me the answers, the truth is, she didn’t. She made some suggestions (mostly about my health), and promised to continue praying for me, but she too has had struggles with knowing how to remain in hope when things in life are bad.
This morning, while getting ready for work I felt like God showed me that the problem for me, at this point, is that I am putting my hope in situations and circumstances instead of Him. I certainly can’t deny that. Because, if my hope were in the unfailing, immutable, powerful God I claim to worship, then no situation or circumstance would sway me. My foundation would be secure and the light and temporary trials would be nothing more than that in my mind. I admit that I have been hoping in certain things to happen and not focusing my hope on the One from whom it comes. This is a problem.
Admitting the problem, as many of you know, is the first step in rectifying it. So, now that I have shared my failings with you, I would like to also share that I decided to look at Scriptures that deal with hope. There are the obvious ones, like Jeremiah 29:11 & Isaiah 40:31, Philippians 1:6 & Romans 8:28 and while I would love to say they grabbed hold of me and altered my mindset, the truth is, I’ve heard them so many times that currently they are a bit obsolete. Not that there’s not power in them, but just that the power isn’t rocking me in this emotional pit.
So, I kept trudging through the verses. That’s when 1 Peter 5:10 smacked me. This was exactly what I needed. I need God to restore me, make me strong, firm, and steadfast (ESV). But to fully grasp the concept I knew I had to dive deeper. I found the verse in the KJV, which reads: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
From there it became obvious that I needed to apply the Strong’s to the following words: grace, glory, suffered, make perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle. Here’s what I found:
- Grace (5485)– graciousness (as gratifying) or manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative, or spiritual; especially in the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life; including gratitude).
- Glory (1391)- glory (as very apparent) in a wide application (literally or figuratively, objectively or subjectively).
- Suffered (3958)- to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful).
- Make perfect(2675)- to complete thoroughly, that is repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust.
- Stablish (4741)– to set fast that is (literally) to turn resolutely in a certain direction or (figuratively) to confirm.
- Strengthen (4599)- (bodily vigor…); to strengthen that is (figuratively) confirm (in spiritual knowledge and power)
- Settle (2311)- to lay a basis for that is (literally) erect or (figuratively) consolidate.
I give you all of this information to show you how I have come to the following understanding of the verse:
The God of all graciousness, who has a divine influence on our hearts and thereby is reflected in our lives, who has called us into eternal, widely apparent glory through Jesus, will, after we have experienced the sensation and impression of pain for whatever length of time He prescribes, make us thoroughly complete, repairing us and adjusting us, so that we are set fast and resolutely turned to Him. He will provide all the bodily and spiritual strength, knowledge, and power necessary so that our lives are firmly erected on Him.
I suspect, in considering this, that there’s really nothing better to hope in. Certainly no other temporal circumstance or situation in life can make such a promise. And maybe, there’s no protocol to hope. Maybe it’s all about that mustard seed faith? Maybe it’s all about repeating these promises in the midst of those painful sensations and impressions? Maybe that’s how we have our hope renewed and retained?
I think it’s worth the try. What about you?
Main image- Sifter, Pol. (2006). hope. Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/7aGYdS
Herjolf, P. (2016). Hope (with cross and hands). Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/D5pG16
Tunnicliff, D. (2009). …Hope…(Scrabble letters in hands). Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/7rZi9Q
MK, Omar. (2008). Hope.. (with hands lifted). Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/4KKKfP