Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Path of Hope

If we allow ourselves (and many do), we can look at the state of our world and become very, very discouraged.  As a matter of fact, if not careful we can lose hope.  The world's economy has gone bonkers. Terrorism is growing world-wide.  There are volatile situations in Egypt, Tunisia, and other nations of the world.  Add to that natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, and floods all over the world.  And then there are the personal challenges many face in relationships, joblessness, sickness, and finances.  It is very easy to lose all hope in a world that looks rather bleak.

"But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." (I Cor. 13: 13)  This short scripture ends the chapter known as the love chapter.  In this verse Paul mentions three virtues:  faith, hope, and love.  We know the greatest of these virtues is love, because God Himself is love.  But two others are mentioned:  Faith and hope.  We know the significance of faith because as Paul also said, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  (II Cor. 5: 7)  There's one more virtue however:  Hope.  We don't hear much teaching about hope.  Nevertheless hope is one of the Big Three.  As a matter of fact, the virtue of hope is one of the most significant there is.

Understand that hope precedes faith.  Faith says "God can.  Therefore I can."  Hope says, "Perhaps there's a chance."  Or, "Maybe, just maybe..."  On the other hand hopelessness (which is the opposite of hope) says, "What's the use?  I give up."  Hopelessness is tied to fear and death, while hope is tied to faith and life.  The truth is, you cannot walk in faith without hope.  Some people have lost hope.  Therefore without hope, there is no chance of having faith.  The very crisis that brought me desperately to Jesus years ago set before me the path of hope and the path of hopelessness.  For me the path of hopelessness was to take my life and I came very close to choosing that path.  But there was a flicker of hope within me that said "Maybe, just maybe God can help."  Fortunately for me I chose the path of hope.  A friend who had been radically saved just 8 months earlier had been telling about Jesus.  When my world fell apart I pondered suicide, but then the thoughts of calling Joe Duckett rang louder in my mind.  Joe led me to Jesus, and I've never been the same!

If you have lost hope, or if your situation seems hopeless there is a solution.  It is to encounter the God of hope.  "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  (Rom. 15: 13)  You see, when you give it over to the God of hope, He will fill you with joy and peace.  This will strengthen your faith because when you give it over to are trusting Him.  The result is that you will abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit becomes involved, the power of God also is involved.  Remember, He is the God of hope.

Hopelessness is a weapon satan uses to diminish or destroy our faith.  But hope leads us to  faith to stand and not give up.  David knew the significance of hope and recognized the dangers of hopelessness.  "Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of his presence."  (Psalm 42: 5)  David spoke to His soul and commanded it to lay aside the hopelessness and instead, hope in God.  That's what we should do.  Don't let the enemy destroy your faith!  All things are possible with God!  There is hope.  Give it over to Him.  He is the God of hope!

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