We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Heb. 6:19)
As I read Psalms 130 and 131, these short passages speak to me about the nature of hope, and why it’s so vital to the outworking of my faith.
Hope is something I need not just to think about, but to take hold of with both hands. This life that God has given me is so good in countless ways; yet there are always circumstances available to drag me down. Along with these are my many shortcomings and vulnerabilities, which are always poised to aid in the process of discouragement.
I know from His Word that God doesn’t want me to stumble through my days, but to walk on the path of total trust in Him. Otherwise, I’m not really walking in faith, because “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:1, 6)
So what is it that I hope for, what I must put my confidence in?
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, who, Lord, could stand?” asks the psalmist. The hope I have is not because I am good enough, but because Jesus is. I have hope even though I so often fall short of what I yearn to be before God and others. My hope comes not from my own efforts but from my confidence that God will indeed work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). My hope comes from the decision to give over to Him, and not to give up in despair.
“But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Redemption leads to reverence for my Redeemer. Reverence for who God is and what He has done enables me to serve Him in a way that is pleasing, even though it’s not perfect. Being forgiven and able to serve are important truths to focus on when I feel like I’m chasing my tail and wonder where it’s all leading. It’s not crucial for me to see the outcome; it is crucial for me trust the One who determines that outcome, to leave it in His hands without wringing mine. Hope is reverent service in response to God’s Love, not in the effort of earning it.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”
“My heart is not proud . . . I do not concern myself with great matters and things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself . . .”
Patience is essential to hope. It’s no use saying my hope is in the Lord if I’m anxiously pacing the floor, trying to figure things out for myself. When I catch myself doing this, I need His Word to remind me that His love never fails, His timing is always perfect, that my redemption is complete, no matter what. Because of His unchanging love for me and because He alone knows the end from the beginning, I can be at peace in spite of everything around me and the unrest that rises up within me. I need a fresh jolt of His truth to dislodge the idea that I need to concern myself with the things that only God can understand and work out. Hope brings patience, humility and peace.
“Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore.”
Hope is not just something I have when I look to eternity – I have it here and now. My salvation has already started. I’m not here just to endure and stumble along somehow until I get to spend eternity in heaven. My salvation here is a real and life-giving relationship with a real and live-giving God. I’m promised trials, but God turns trials into trails that lead to growth and witness and opportunities when I hand them over to Him. I have hope right here, right now. What a schmuck I am when I forget that and just let myself drift along. My hope is that I have constant access to the anchor that will hold me steady, no matter how terrible the storm.
In the end, it’s really of question of what punctuates my hope.
Am I anchored? – or – I am anchored!