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  • Writer's pictureMike

Anchored by Hope

I’m a pragmatic. It would be easy for me to mock hope, because my mind naturally seeks for what is real, what is here, what is provable. But hope is a gift and it has a big place in any healthy life. In Romans chapter 8, starting in verse 18, we are promised that what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. Interesting, it says “all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who the children of God really are.” (NLT)

It wasn’t creation’s fault that it got subjected to God's curse. But creation waits with breathless excitement for the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. We long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. Do you long for that? Creation, all of it, longs as well.

All the way back in Genesis, at the time of the fall with Adam and Eve, God promised that He would renew not merely our minds and hearts, but our relationships that were fractured from Him and from each other. We hope for what we do not yet have but long to have, believe to have.

We’re waiting for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it. Right now, we don't yet have perfect bodies. We don't have a perfect world and environment around us. We don't have a perfect church. We don't have perfect schools and education system. We don't have perfect relationships.

Hope is an interesting thing. It's basically a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It's also a feeling of trust. Sometimes I hear people say, “I hope that's going to happen or such and such is going to happen.”

How many of you have heard that? How many of you have said that? When we use that phrase, “I hope that it's going to happen,” it’s not usually saying that I believe that it really is going to come to pass. It usually means, “Well, it might happen.” "I would sure prefer that it would. But in truth, I don't know if I actually believe that it.

We use hope in a lot of different ways. Sometimes we use hope very positively. Sometimes we use hope kind of as an excuse for our unbelief and negativity.

Perhaps we should treat the word, or the concept hope as one of the most valuable, precious things that we have. Hope is an anchor for your soul, helping deal with the spiritual, moral, and ethical challenges that you deal with in your day-to-day living.

Hope is what drives the human spirit at every level. When somebody loses hope, I would dare say they've lost everything. It doesn't always look like they've lost everything, but it’s only a matter of time. When you lose hope, you begin to let go of everything valuable in of your life; you let your life go.

There are many stories like this in the Bible.? Can you imagine the story of the Red Sea and the children of Israel? A few weeks before the Red Sea crossing God told Moses and Aaron come to the children of Israel and say, “Look, God has told me it's time for us to go to the promised land.”

What was their response?

Was it, “Yes, I knew it was coming! It's time.”

No, their response was, “Who appointed you as leader? Where did you come from?”

They did not believe, and they were not willing to follow until Moses met Moses and God starting working miracle after miracle. Sadly, eventually, but slower than many of the Egyptians, the Israelites began to say, “Maybe there might be something to what this guy is saying.” And hope began to kindle in their heart.

Moses was a dispenser of hope. I would dare suggest that it is the job and the mission and the calling of every single Christian on the face of this planet to be a dispenser of hope. If anyone in the world should have hope and not give up, it should be Christians. If we actually believe what we say we believe, we should be the biggest dispensers of hope this world has ever seen.

So the children of Israel are marching through the desert. And the pharaoh changes his mind. You know the story. And they can hear and see the rumble of the chariots in the distance as he marshaled his army to become the greatest army on the planet at that time, the Egyptian army. And they come to take them back.

And you would know the story. They're trapped between the mountains and the Red Sea in that valley and nowhere to go. And what are the children of Israel say? “God, what miracle are you going to work now?”

Nope. They didn’t. They're like you and me, right? “Why did this happen? How did I get here? God, how did you let this happen to me?”

And while they complained, Moses must have been struggling, too. And God told him to stretch out his staff and he parted the Red Sea.

The Israelites always knew they were going to be destroyed whenever things got tough. Every single time: the Red Sea, hunger and sickness in the desert. Always complaining, “We should go back to Egypt, go back to bondage!”

I have worked with many individuals that struggle with addictions in their life. So many times I’ve heard the same kind of thing. They start to get some freedom. The hold is being broken on their life and they face a difficult situation. And hope that was once kindled begins to wane.

And they think, “Well, I'll go back and get me a fresh fix. That'll carry me through this difficult time, just this once. I'll be OK.”

Then they try to “get back on the wagon” when it's over, only to find that they get run over by the wagon in the process. And they just never get back up. Sadly, I have worked with too many that have lost hope and given up.

You can see it in the eyes of people.  Have you been to the zoo? It’s so clearly vivid there. Look at the eyes of the predators: the bears, polar bears, lions, all the cats. You can see this distant emptiness in their eyes.

When I went to Kenya, and saw the lions sitting, free, right beside us. The difference was incredible, the look in the eye of freedom and the hope they have. And they're not thinking, processing like you and I, “Oh, I've got hope.” No, they're just living it, every day.

If wild animal are hungry, they'll go kill and eat. They want to drink, they're thirsty, they'll go get a drink at the lake. It's a different world. But the caged animals at the zoo, at first try to get free. They push against the wall. They push against the gate. They push against the fence. They can eat only when they're given food. They can't just go and hunt. They hear the animals all around them, but they can never get to them. With time, that hope of freedom in life begins to wane. And that spark of excitement and energy dies. It's sad when you see that in the eyes of people.

There's a sparkle in the eye when someone has hope. We should feed hope to our children. There is nothing more important that you will do for your kids, for the long-term stability, emotional health, and their success in life than to instill hope in them.

Kids make mistakes, but if we gripe about all their mistakes, and that's what they leave our homes remembering, they become debilitated for future success. We should, instead, instill hope in them: the belief that their life can be better, that they can be more, that they can do more, that they can have more, that they can see more, that they can experience more, that they can give more. Their contribution to society and the church will be exponentially greater. People that have hope, they engage life differently.

I've talked to a lot of individuals who say, “I hope that I'm going to be able to find a spouse someday.” Or, “I hope I'll find a partner for my life, or I hope I will have a better marriage.”

As a very young man I was determined I was going to have a good marriage. I was determined when I looked around me, I didn't want what I saw most marriages to be. I didn't want that to be for myself. I wanted something that was outstanding and that would last a lifetime. And so I started studying. I started attending seminars while I was in teenage years and I read every relationship book I could get my hands on.

I talked to pastors and counselors and asked them what made the difference in the success of a marriage or in the success of their marriage counseling. There's one thing that I gleaned from all of that. Do you know what that was? It was hope.

I have found in my experience of 30 years of counseling couples that there was one thing more than anything else that determines whether or not a broken, fractured marriage can be saved. It is whether there is hope in the eyes and the voice and demeanor of the people sitting in front of me. They need to have hope that this thing can actually be salvaged, that it can be turned around. They may not know how. They may not have the social, relational tools to fix the problems. But they if they have hope that it can be better, if they have hope that it's possible to solve the problem, then we can go through whatever steps necessary to fix their relationship.

Some say, “I hope I'll have kids.” When I hear this, I have to ask them, “What are you doing about it?”

We can hope for a lot of things. But at the end of the day, hope for it, believe for it, and then go to work to make it happen. If you want kids, they're not going to happen by you smiling across the dinner table at each other. If you want a relationship, a life partner, a spouse, you’ve got to get out and meet people. If you want a better job, you’ve got to improve your resume, your skill set - improve what you have to offer. Go out and talk to employers and build connections and network. If you want more money, then you’ve got to educate yourself in how to understand money.

The more, you know, the more you grow. The more you improve your knowledge and situation, the more that flicker of hope becomes more than just, "I want it to happen. I need it to happen. I think it might happen.” It becomes, “I know this can happen.” You and your faith have got to go to work together to make it happen! And God will bless that with special grace and benefit through your process.

Do you want better health? It's not enough to sit and lower blood pressure or weight, more energy, et cetera. You’ve got to go to work! It means hit the treadmill, walk on the pavement, change your diet. Hope is when it's real, when it's vibrant; hope energizes a person.

In Hebrews 6:18 God has gave an oath. God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis is very interesting compared to the one in Hebrews. God had to come back later with a “new” promise because the first one wasn't sufficient in the mind of Abraham. God swears that anyone who “flees to him for refuge” can have great confidence in the hope that “lies before us.” This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, and the reason it works is all tied up in the story of the sanctuary in heaven.

Hebrews says that we can have hope because Jesus was the “seed” of Abraham, meant to save us. The proof of all that is going to work is that he died as a sacrifice and then raised to life again. After that he became a priest and a mediator. God didn’t just promise Abraham a plot of land in Palestine. He never promised that. This is explicit in the book of Hebrews. Abraham was looking for another world, a better earth. He was looking for the New Jerusalem that would come down and reboot the world! He waited for the promises to end the pain and sin in the world. He understood it and embraced it. That’s why when he and Lot talked about where they’d go, he let Lot take the more fertile land. It didn’t matter because he had a hope that stretched beyond the ages and beyond this broken world. That hope held him to the very last. And that's why Hebrews chapter 11 presents him as one of the greats of faith, because that hope held him. He knew what he looked forward to.

Proverbs 13 says that hope deferred or delayed makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. I like how the wisest man says hope is a tree of life, sticking its roots into the ground and drawing its nourishment from deep. Like an enormous tree, hope holds on, despite the passage of time. This is why hope is an anchor to the soul. Young people need to have hope instilled, dispensed to them. Old people need hope instilled and dispensed to them. We need it because that hope is what will hold us through all the challenges and difficulties.

Hope is the single most important thing you could give your kids as a legacy. I’ll tell you why. Because life hurts. It isn't fun at times. There's a lot of pain, but there’s far more good and joy in this life than there is pain. Sometimes we get caught up on the pain because it's so poignant when it hits us. Sometimes we don't let it heal. We keep picking the scab of that pain because we like the feel for some reason. We keep it alive and well in our hearts and we carry it out throughout our life.

Hope heals every wound. It helps you to see beyond the cut to the healed flesh. There are scars on our bodies and scars on our souls, our emotions. But hope equips our us to be prepared to face the inevitabilities of pain in life as we do the business of life. And hope carries us when things get difficult. Hope reminds us that this is not the end. This is not the conclusion of the story, no matter how dramatic it may seem at the moment.

The Bible says that weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. That's hope. Your life has purpose for the future.

So many times churches celebrate their quinquenniums and their centenniums and all their other enniums for celebrating the days gone by. Alumni love to talk about all these great days of the past. I want to tell you, your best days are yet ahead of you. One of the reasons being you know more today than you knew then. Your trials and joys have given more skill and more potential and more opportunity than you had at any other point in your life.

God has never changed His promise to be an anchor in your soul. That promise is still steadfast and it still stands for us today. Be a dispenser of hope. Everyone you meet, give them hope. You have no idea what they're struggling with. I am sure that if we carry hope with us everywhere we go, we are going to be magnetic. People are going to want to be like us. They're going to want to be around us. They're going to want to worship with us. And we'll be able to walk together to the kingdom of heaven and celebrate with the multitudes of people we've impacted over the years.

As always, Choose Your Happy!


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