I hope all of the food I consumed on my vacation did not cause me to gain the extra 5 pounds that loves to reside on me. I hope it does not rain today. (Yes, I know I live in the Northwest; but there is always hope. Right?) I hope one day to hear, “Well done,” from my Father in heaven. We all place our hope in a variety of things, from the futile and vain to the eternal and significant. What should hope, in a believer’s life, look like? Do we have an example set before us to follow? What happens to us if we lose hope? I was gripped this morning by these thoughts and questions as I read through Romans.
Webster’s definition of hope is to desire something and expect that it will happen or be obtained. Do we hope and wait, in great expectation and belief, like that convicting dictionary tells us to hope ? Unfortunately, our lives prove that we are doubting people with pessimistic views of God and his power. We are weak in our faith and we waver in unbelief. As a result, hopelessness abounds in our day. And yet, there is hope! We have an example to follow among our great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) who possessed an unwavering, optimistic hope in God’s promises and His power to deliver them. Our man is Abraham, the friend of God.
Abraham and Sarah were promised a son. If anyone should have been excused from having faith and hope, it was Abraham. He “contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” Really think about that. These are seemingly hopeless circumstances!! And yet, did he wallow in faithless hopelessness? We read on in Romans that “without becoming weak in faith” and “with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was also able to perform.” This pure, undefiled, optimistic faith Abraham had in God’s promise and power was reckoned to him as righteousness. What a man of faith! Oh, that we could possess an ounce of this kind of optimistic faith!
We are so prone to reductio ad absurdum. We use our own life as the measuring stick of the power of God to deliver His promises. Like the mistaken Sadducees in Mt. 22:29, we reduce his promises to mere possibilities (at best) or absurdities (at worst) because they won’t work for us in our impossible circumstances. We now think we have our excuse to doubt God. Our attitudes and actions expose what is in our hearts: unbelief and lack of faith. We don’t believe that God can change our spouses, our parents, our children, our finances, even our own hearts. We don’t trust him to be all that we need even if these things/people don’t change. We don’t believe that He is working all things together for good. Why? Because, we do not know God, like Abraham did. And like the Sadducees, we do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God!
It is not difficult to detect a hopeless heart. I watched a movie recently which declared that men without hope are like walking dead men, simply living to die. How true! When we lose our hope, we are unmotivated and often immobilized in any efforts in our life and ministries. As a result, we aren’t the first in line (if we are even in the line at all) to serve and care for others. We don’t look forward in eager expectation to our days; instead, we face each depressing day with a foreboding cloud of dread hanging over us. Hopelessness oozes out of us in joyless demeanors and pessimistic mouths. Like a sickness, it pervades the entire body, starting with the heart. Proverbs 13:12 says “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” To defer means to postpone. We put off hope until we “see” good reasons for hoping. This is not hope! Romans 8:24-25 says “hope that is seen in not hope…but if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Abraham waited for God’s promise in hope!
How could Abraham be so full of hope in the midst of impossible circumstances? Abraham was the friend of God! He knew God! He loved God! He trusted God! In eager hope, he believed God! He did not doubt God! Abraham had a vision of God which held him up over the impossible circumstances and caused him to be steadfast in his hope!
How about you? Is your life of faith muddied by doubt and unbelief? We need God to “get in our face.” We need Him to get so close to our face that we can’t see past Him! “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glorious face!” (Feel free to sing!)
In hope against hope, Abraham believed (4:18). As a result, he grew strong in faith and God was glorified in him (4:20). We all want to glorify God. It’s the mission of our church, and hopefully of our lives as well. Grow stronger in your faith by hoping in the faithful, sure promises of God! Get to know those promises and the God who gave them by spending precious time with Him in His word, in prayer, in fellowship, in worship, in communion. In eager hope, expect great things from God!
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
William Gurnall (Puritan 1617 – 1679)
Copyright © 2004 Living Water Community Church.
All Rights Reserved. (360) 882-4220