I hope you didn’t think I was finished with hope, because I ain’t done with it yet! Hope has become something that really stirs me and God’s been taking his time to unfold an understanding of it to me, which I will do my best to share with you. If you didn’t catch the first devotional on hope you can read it here.
Let’s start with some general understanding of hope before we get more excited. Dictionary.com defines hope as: “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” and “to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence.” Thesaurus.com provides the following synonyms for hope:
We cannot fully understand what hope means without looking at God’s definition of love.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:7
It follows that some of the fruits of love are:
- Meekness and kindness (bearing all things)
- Faith or trust (believing all things)
- Hope (hoping all things)
- Patience (enduring all things)
Faith, or trust, is inextricably connected to hope. Hope leads to faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1
Faith in God and his ways is the icing on the cake of hope. And if you don’t like icing, well, this icing comes from a brilliant manufacturer: made from free-range, organic ingredients, this icing is no processed stuff from a box.
Hope is great. But what happens if we lose hope? It’s hard and sad if we lose hope in something. But it’s also part of life here on this beautiful but broken earth. The realities of life can easily steal our hope as we get caught up in events that are happening before our eyes, as we think about what ‘can’t’ be done, what ‘can’t’ be fixed or changed, what ‘isn’t’ going to happen. If we choose to keep thinking those kinds of thoughts, that’s when our hope is snatched from us. We don’t have to let those thoughts run amok in our minds. Our minds don’t have to have the good fruits stolen from them and get choked by weeds and damaging pests. Don’t let your hope get snatched. Chase after it and haul it back.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12
Now, the fruits of love, including hope, are great things, for us and others. But what if we try to have these fruits without love? It’s like buying fruit from the supermarket instead of eating from our own fruit trees or plants. It might not seem so different at the outset, but where is the supermarket fruit coming from? You don’t know what conditions it’s been grown in, what and how much it’s been sprayed with, how unripe it was when it was picked, how long it’s been sitting around, how many people have touched it or squished it and what kinds of germs are carried on it. Do some of those things ring true for us when we think or act without being motivated by love?
Now, if we cultivate a fruit tree or plant in our garden and look after it well, giving it all that it needs, how much better is that fruit? We are aware of what it’s been through, we have made time to seek out and give the tree what it needs to bear good fruit, we pick it when it’s ready and we can tell when we taste it that we’ve done something right. God helps us to grow good fruit trees in the gardens of our lives because he is love. Love is what grows good fruit.
1 John 4:7-21 is a great place to read about God’s love.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:16
God is love.
What happens if we go back to 1 Corinthians 13:7 and think of it like this?:
God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I could fairly easily grasp the fact that God bears all things, God believes all things and God endures all things. But what about hope? Does God really hope? What does God hope? These are questions I’ve been talking to God about. God doesn’t need to hope in the same way that we hope in him. He knows and has the ability to control everything that has or will happen. He exists outside of time and knows exactly what’s going to happen. So why would God hope? The answer is sweet and humbling. God hopes in us. Sometimes people have trouble understanding how God can give us free choice if he knows what we’re going to do; but what boggles my mind is how God can hope in us when he knows what we’re going to do. He hopes in us even though he knows we’re going to screw up sometimes.
God loves us more than we will ever understand and his hope in us is a fruit of that love. He hopes that we will choose him, day after day. He created us so that he could have a relationship with each of us. It seems crazy because he knows what’s going to happen with each one of us. He gave us freedom to choose and sometimes we choose well and sometimes we really, really don’t. But that doesn’t stop God from hoping in us. God hopes that we will come to him. He waits for us. He WAITS for us with such an eagerness that we cannot even understand. He. Just. Wants. To. Be. With. Us. And that is the sweetest thing that I have ever known. When something good happens, God hopes we’ll come to him. When something tough happens, God hopes we’ll come to him. When we screw up, God hopes we’ll come to him. And God hopes that when we get to the end of our life we will be able to say, “I did it! I finished the race.”
The Bible is full of words and phrases that show us that God wants to be with us:
- Come to me
- Lift your eyes
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. – John 15:4
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
“I called on your name, O Lord , from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life. – Lamentations 3:55-58
… I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. – Acts 2:25-26
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” – Ezekiel 18:32
God is not watching a sports game down here, he planted gardens, lots of gardens, and now he wants to enjoy those gardens wile helping them to grow. He’s not just waiting around for the finished result. God enjoys the process of growing our gardens with us. He doesn’t like it when we ignore him and choose to do the wrong thing. Sin does make God angry. But he’s not like us. He is NOT the uncontrolled father who wields a stick or an outburst of anger when his children sin, he is the kind yet grounded Father who tells us what we did wrong, explains why it was wrong, gives us a chance to tell our story and helps us to fix it. And punishment? If we’ve taken on a relationship with Jesus and asked for forgiveness, we don’t even have to sit in the naughty spot. Jesus has already sat in the naughty spot for us. God abundantly pardons us. He just lets us go. He sets us free without punishment again and again and again and hopes that we will choose to dwell with him and seek his ways again.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:6-7
God’s hope is almost indescribable in its beauty. As I try to understand it, it just makes me want to please him more. No one can hope in us like God does. He deserves our attention and as we spend time with him, he teaches us how to grow hope.
- How are you growing the fruit of hope in yourself and others? Are you:
- growing it from a place of love?
- growing it with God?
- trying to acquire it on your own terms?
- trying to throw it to people without love and wondering why it’s hitting them in the face?
- avoiding dealing with a hope that’s been deferred, bruised or dashed to pieces in the past?
- How does knowing that God hopes in you make you feel about yourself? How does it make you feel about God?
- Talk to God about these things.
All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.