Lessons in Hope

“Well, I hope so”. . . “Let’s hope this works”. . . “You can call someone and hope that they will help you . . .”

These are phrases commonly heard in modern society; especially by those who have exhausted every other means at their disposal to meet a need. In short, hope is the last resort. You flip a coin and hope that it lands on “heads” so that you can go on functioning.

Prayers are often the same way. A pastor or sympathetic friend says: “I’ll pray for you.” Translation: “let’s shoot up a red flare and hope that God answers.” Prayer, in practical modern terms, is often “hit and miss.”

Few people really believe that the power of petitions sent heavenward by Old and New Testament heroes is actually possible today, let alone a reliable hope. So, we are left with a twinge of guilt because our hearts know that the Bible commands us to pray; yet we are deeply hurt, bewildered and angry that this supposed loving God would simply (and apparently regularly) ignore our desperate plight and pleas for help. “God does not work that way anymore” is the common explanation heard from scholars and clergy. Indeed, it would seem that they are right – given the state of affairs in this world . . . a place that very closely resembles the “Days of Noah” spoken of in Genesis and the New Testament Gospels.

“So, what are we supposed to do?” The bitter cry of our soul etches “forsaken bastard” upon the ever hardening table of our heart. In frustration and despair, we throw up our hands. “Let’s hope something will work out,” we mumble . . . and walk away.

But what if the clergy and learned scholars are blinded by false assumptions? Even history teaches us the experts can be wrong. The city of Troy was considered a myth. The coelacanth was known as an extinct fossil. The universe was thought to be eternal. The Shroud of Turin was declared to be a medieval painting. Pontius Pilate and King David were both seen as Biblical folklore. Columbus was touted as the first person to discover America. Thonis–Heracleion was only a mysterious reference until the year 2000.

Currently, for the people seeking answers and hope, life experience and experts alike often tell them: “God doesn’t work the way he used to.”

Well-meaning assumptions are often seen as fact . . . until more research turns up new understanding: and the world becomes a different place.

For those familiar with Bible study software like e-Sword ™ or e-book devices such as Franklin Bookman™ there is a study technique that can uncover some amazing facts and long forgotten truths. Take for example the word “hope.” To discover a bird’s eye view of what the Bible actually says about hope, type in the word and systematically peruse the list of references. The passages span the entire scriptures from Genesis to Revelation and give an overall view that is otherwise hidden to the casual reader. What’s more . . . the passages which were written over a span of thousands of years, when viewed collectively at a glance, actually define what hope is and how it works in prayer. It turns out the Bible is its own commentary. Relying upon experts to tell us what the scriptures mean . . . could be a mistake (2 Timothy 2:15).

In Ruth 1:12, Naomi describes hope as a cord, an expectation, feeling alive, and the desire of the heart.

Job 11:13-19 describes the security, prosperity and confidence that a good understanding of hope in God brings to your life.

Psalm 31:24 “Be of good courage (fasten upon; bind yourself to that which is good), and he (God) shall strengthen thine heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” (Jehovah: the self-existent, eternal one).

Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” (The Hebrew word “fear” means: the power of the Highest makes my hand to prosper; my hand/ strength is the power of the Highest; I rely on the strength of God as my hope).

Psalm 33:22 “Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” (The term “mercy” means kindness or being kin [family]; the Hebrew word literally means: to reveal the security that comes from being in the door of [God’s] house).

Psalm 38:15 “For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O LORD my God.” (Here we have in plain text a promise that God will hear us when we put the weight of our life totally on Him; when we bind our very existence, abilities, prosperity, future and happiness to Him by an umbilical cord of hope).

Psalm 39:7 “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.” (This is a Messianic Psalm: the term Lord, in lower case, refers to Christ; the term “wait” means to bind with a cord, thus it is the same as hope. The author is asking a question we all need to ask ourselves: what am I binding myself to? My hope – the power of my existence – is in the risen Christ).

Hope is casting the weight of your cares and the desires of your heart onto Christ. His hope is then made in you; a relationship with your heavenly Father is formed; and prayers are heard. When we are in family fellowship, help comes.

Psalm 45:5 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” (the word “help” here means: deliverance, victory and prosperity.

“My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
Let’s hope . . . this works!

“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy Word.”

By Hugh Johnson

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