Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hope beyond all hope

Hope City LimitsAstute readers of this blog may have noticed that several of my conversations lately have been sprinkled with the mention of hope. This was both unintentional (in that this is simply where my thoughts have been led of late) and intentional (in that I included them purposefully). Hope is something we cling to as followers of Christ, without which we despair and are left adrift. But hope is also something which we must find, and with which we guard ourselves. Paul, in Ephesians, encourages us to put on the "helmet of salvation" (Ephesians 6:17); but he is a little more specific in his description to the Thessalonians:

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NIV)
Paul again refers to the helmet of salvation, but speaks of it as our hope in salvation that we put on. And we can learn, I think, from how Paul tells us to protect ourselves with this hope: as a helmet. The helmet protects the head; hope is something that must be grasped mentally. When we set our minds, focused on the hope of our salvation, then our entire outlook is changed. But when that hope is lost in our minds, these are the times when we find turmoil and struggle with our faith. It is, in essence, a positive feedback loop (okay, I am an engineer, so I'm allowed to talk this way): faith builds our basis for hope and, in turn, our hope supports our faith.

The Spirit of God is our counselor, our comforter. The Spirit speaks to us constantly of the hope we find in Christ, of the hope we hold in our salvation. Sara Groves sings of this in her song "When it was Over":

There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope that whispers a vow
A promise to stay while we're working it out
So come with your love and wash over us

The hope we hold in Jehovah's faithfulness to us can be a phenomenal influence and support in our lives. To simply know that our Lord - who Was, and Is, and Is To Come - stands beside each of us and desires only the greatest for our lives can turn our mourning into dancing, our tumult into peace, our sorrow into joy. Jeremiah held onto this hope; in the worst time of his life, as he saw the fulfillment of all the prophecies he had laid against Judah, he wrote:
21This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in Him."
Lamentations 3:21-24 (NASB)
Beyond HopeIf Jeremiah can sit in exile in Egypt and remember that, even in this, Jehovah is faithful and loving and find hope, then what holds us back from clinging to hope?

Are you finding hope in your day to day walk? Do you hold on to hope, wearing it like a helmet? Has your life seemingly drown out any hope you have known? Is there something in particular that brings hope to your life?

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