I’ll be honest with you; I’ve been struggling with discouragement lately. I’m the type of person that rises to the occasion when emergencies happen, but the daily bombardment of curve balls and small disappointments can easily be my undoing. It seems like my days have been full of them recently and I see no end in sight. Add in our declining moral and ethical culture, world-wide volatility and a Church (all followers of Jesus) that spends more time attacking each other and “protecting” their “turf” than fighting for the eternal souls of their neighbors and loving as Christ loves…well, you get the picture. Sometimes it’s hard to be hopeful.
So, where does hope come from?
If it comes from the wrong place hope can be devastating. I think too often we teach our kids to hope in the wrong thing and then wonder why they reject the church when hope lets them down. That’s exactly what happened to some ladies in a Japanese concentration camp in the Philippines…
They had sat next to each other in church every Sunday, attended Bible studies, church potlucks, served the poor and helped their neighbors. In a blink of an eye it all changed.
After years of barely surviving imprisonment, faith began to falter. They had begged God to set them free. Every morning they kindled the hope that today would be the day. Every night they crawled onto their bug invested mats questioning why He had not. In the end, many lost their faith and their mind.
One woman, however, saw her faith and hope thrive.
The novice missionary had arrived on the island newly married and with the endless optimism of youth. Life was hard but good. Then the Japanese invaded and her plans for the future changed forever.
She clung to hope as her husband was taken away with the rest of the men. Hope was her comfort during endless beatings and days upon days in solitary confinement. Hope was her strength when food was meager and parasites ravaged her wasted frame. Hope was her joy—WAIT—how did joy enter the equation? Isn’t joy what happens after hope comes through?
It all depends where your hope comes from.
Her hope didn’t come from the anticipated fulfillment of her desires or a prayer request answered with a “yes”.
Hope was the reality of the character of God.
Hope was in knowing He was with her no matter where she was,
would give her strength no matter what happened,
and in His promise that her suffering was not in vain.
Hope was not in an outcome it was in the Almighty God.
The discouragements that weigh me down seem so petty compared to what she endured. But they are real to me, and how I respond to them will determine how I respond to the challenges that lay ahead.
Where does my hope come from?
When the world is dark and the future is darker, hope is the thing inside that makes people strain to see a light in the tunnel. The difference between followers of Jesus and all others is that our hope is not a based on a whim. Our light doesn’t flicker out. Our Hope is real, eternal and always with us. I may be discouraged but I never give up Hope. My hope is not in mankind or even in me. My hope is in the source of true hope. When I remember that reality, joy starts seeping into my discouragement and peace wraps around my fears.
I pray you will focus on hope…the real Hope, and that you will pass it on to the children you love. I’m not a prophet, but I suspect many of us will have our hope tested in the years ahead. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have it tested every day. Will our hope die or will it thrive?
It all depends on where your hope comes from…
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13 NLT