Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Virtue of Hope

We live in a day and time when things aren't looking so rosy. The "American Dream" has turned into the American nightmare! The economy (contrary to media reports) is suffering greatly. The jobless rate is higher than it has been in many years. I'm not talking about the percentages being reported by the news media. The ones I'm referring to include all human beings that are without a job. Some are desperately looking while others are taking the government for a free ride. Many folks have lost not only their jobs, but their homes as well. Most Americans have never experienced the level of challenge as presented to us now.

Have things been worse? Of course they have. But not to most of the generations now living. For decades we've lived comfortably with hardly a care in our world. In fact, we've been so comfortable we haven't had a clue as to how the rest of the world lives, and how they struggle. All of that is changing however. We Americans are learning that being American does not exempt us from the challenges the rest of the world is experiencing. We've always looked to our government, our military, and our national leaders to "handle it", but that has changed.

As negative as this may sound, there is hope! But our hope must be in God. God is the "God of hope". He owns hope. When we hope in God, we hope in His way, not ours. Hope is not faith. Hope precedes faith. In order to trust in God (have faith in) we must first put our hope in Him.

Listen to the difference between hope and faith. Faith says, "God can. God will." Hope says, "Perhaps God can. Maybe, just maybe he can." Hope precedes faith. Hope is the virtue that leads many people to trust in Jesus. However, when all hope is lost, the ability to believe is lost. The opposite of hope is hopelessness. Hopelessness says, "What's the use. It's over. I give up." Again, hope says, "Perhaps God can." And again, hope precedes faith.

It seems many people in our county have lost all hope for a brighter future. Hopelessness is growing, even among Christ-followers. The ONLY solution to hopelessness is an encounter with 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.” (Romans 15:13) To encounter God is to abound in hope by the power of His Spirit. When one abounds in hope, the stage is set to believe God for just about anything!

"For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) According to this verse, hope is connected to God. Hope always deals with our future. God has a future for you! I hope you realize that...and that He knows what is best for you!

You must seek God to put your hope in Him. One who resolves to seek God will eventually find it quite easy to hope in God. One who hopes in God will find it easy to trust God. There will always be opportunities for you and me to drift toward hopelessness. But we must be aware of it and do like David. David spoke to his soul. "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)

Are you in the pit of hopelessness? Have you lost hope? There is hope! Put your hope in the God of hope. He owns hope. He has a future and a hope for you! It doesn't matter what is going on in the world around us. God is still the God He has always been. He will never leave or forsake you. Put your hope in Him and watch your faith rise!

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