We live in a world that has coined the phrase “don’t get your hopes up.” Many people pressure others to heed to their life experiences and deem it as sound wisdom. As believers in Christ, it is important that we avoid playing “whose been through the most hell?” Every day is an opportunity to lose hope; however, to our advantage, we serve a God of hope who desires to fill us with joy and peace in believing that we may abound in hope (Romans 15:13 NKJV). Hopelessness is not the will of God, and succumbing to hopelessness leaves us to be taken advantage of by the adversary, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Without hope, we are subject to depression, which hinders our capacity to love. The battle to trust God is nothing new, which is why it is vital to establish God’s hope in our hearts and minds every day.
The book of Ezra sheds light on the history behind God’s chosen people being unwilling to trust God. The Lord stirred the spirit of Cyrus (king of Persia) to proclaim that God has commanded him to build a house at Jerusalem in Judah. This was a call to exile from Babylonian captivity and return to Zion to rebuild unto God after 70 years (see Ezra 1). This was to fulfill the word of the Lord that was given by the mouth of Jeremiah (Ezra 1:1), and yet there was no urgency to obey. Why? Simply put, they did not need God. When we do not need God, we tend not to trust God. Ezekiel 26 and 27 portrays the influence of wealth that the Babylonian system had on Judah and the land of Israel. The majority of the Jews made a decision to remain comfortable in captivity; therefore opposing to trust in God. Our comfort pushes the need to hope away, which goes against the very means of our faith (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus brings up this very problem in the parable of the wedding feast. The Lord had prepared a dinner table and invited His people to come, “but they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business” (Matthew 22:5). By binding ourselves to the comfort the world has to offer, we are replacing the Lordship of Jesus in our life with fulfillment of fleshly, perishable, desires (money, status, possessions). When we trust in our own capabilities, we subtly begin to lose hope in the promises of God, which leaves us outside His will.
God has designed us to run the race of faith on the fuel of hope, thus making it necessary to settle it inside ourselves that we will trust in God and His word alone. Whether we know it or not, we are putting our hope in something. In Jeremiah 17:5 and 7, it says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord,” but “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” The next verse promises that no matter the circumstance, he who hopes and trusts in the Lord will not cease from yielding fruit. Hope is defined beautifully in the book of Job. The Bible says that even if a tree is cut down and its stump lies dead in the ground, that at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches (Job 14:7-9). The Lord is not concerned with our abilities in the flesh nor the tragedies of the past, but in our willingness to hope in Him alone. If we were to disregard the cares and comforts the world has to offer, and start believing the promises of God, we would confidently walk in the plan God has for our lives. This begins by devoting time to the Word and believing what God is saying in the face of worldly circumstances. Many times in the book of Psalms, we see David pleading to God for mercy, help, and deliverance. David experienced much grief from the various trials he endured, yet his hope remained in the Word (Psalm 119:81). He was steadfast in his pursuit of the precepts, statutes, and commandments of God. The Word builds hope in us in which we are given strength for the journey. This is the “hope we have as an anchor of [our] soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Hebrews 13:19). When we are anchored in the presence of God, our soul will prosper.
We are of the remnant that has returned to Zion to build unto God according to His command. The Word is our guide that fuels us with hope to carry out all God has planned. And this hope that we have received by the love of God, being poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, will not disappoint (Romans 5). Though God has promised not to disappoint, we must be sure to do our part in this life. We must develop hope in our lives, so that we may never neglect to solely rely on God when worldly circumstances arise. Here are five factors that play a part in developing hope:
Renounce negativity, the enemy of hope.
Negativity alters perception (awareness) and makes problems bigger than they are. Refuse negative company, lest you begin to conform to those around you.
Be certain that God is perfecting His love in you.
God (Love) will attack that which leans on the flesh. God is a jealous God, and He will destroy all props that distract you from Him. He will cut off all self-dependency by placing you in situations where your love will be developed. His main goal for His children is that they would love Him with the love of God, love others with the love of God, and love themselves with the love of God. Because without love, there is no hope.
God is beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) .
Joseph’s journey did not look very beautiful. He was sold into slavery by his own family. The real life emotions of betrayal and misery could have taken over, but Joseph was convinced of what God was telling him. He clung to hope, and how beautiful it was when this hope was fulfilled. David was constantly running and hiding from king Saul, a man he honored and even loved. Though there was much reason to give up, David committed his life to being after God’s heart. In God’s time, He made David king. Hope is satisfied in the end to come. Hope chooses to be patient instead of justifying their pride according to circumstance.
Affirm your identity in the Word. Meditate on who God says you are and receive that encouragement! As mentioned before, we must love ourselves with the love of God. This entails that we are to encourage ourselves daily.
Doing good equates to more hope.
I Samuel 30:11 shows us the power of doing good. David and his men were just ambushed by the Amalekites. The people were captured, spoils were taken, and the city was burned. The people that were with David wanted to stone him, and he was distressed. But, it says that he strengthened himself in the Lord (v. 6).David inquired of the Lord regarding the matter, and God commanded David to pursue the enemy troops. He promised David that all would be recovered. In their pursuit, they came across an Egyptian servant that belonged to the Amalekites. David showed justice towards him by feeding him and bringing him back to strength. He made a deal with the Egyptian, who ended up leading them to where the Amalekites were enjoying the spoils.