By James MacDonald, February 1, 2010, www.walkintheword.com
“Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-5
As followers of Jesus, we need to keep thinking and talking about hope. But hope in itself doesn’t mean much with out an object. Hope must have a target. It’s not typical to hope in Jesus Christ. It is typical to hope in my finances, my family, my career, or my marriage. I can hope in a leader or cause. We put our hope in many things other than Christ. But we learn that none of those things are worthy of our ultimate hope. None of them! The only reliable place to rest our hearts is in Jesus Christ. But that hope is not intuitive - or normal. Hoping may be a habit, but we have to learn to hope in Christ.
The word hope means “a confident expectation of something better.” Hope in Christ realizes, “Hey! My best days are ahead of me. Life isn’t all in the rearview mirror for me now. In Christ I’ve got some things I’m looking forward to - not just in this life, but in the life to come.” That kind of self-talk stirs up hope within us.
Its important to recognize the battle that we’re facing and practice the hope that we find in our King. Learning implies a training process. It’s trial and error. You’re like, “Yeah, I kind of got off the Hope Train this week.” Get back on! That’s why we come to church. Hope training is why we hang out with other Christians. I don’t know what you are feeling today, but if you kind of got off the Hope Train, climb back on!
Now that means we intentionally exchange doubt for hope. Instead of discouragement and despair, we choose hope. I think we need to look to other people who are good models of hope. I am aware of a woman in our church who I have watched over the last couple of years. I have prayed earnestly from a distance as she has gone through an awful circumstance in her family - with no end in sight. Yet she has strengthened many people with her stalwart faith and unyielding joy in the Lord. The examples of other believers’ lives are all around us. These people may not be perfect, but they challenge us to do better. And you can’t know how much staying on the Hope Train will encourage others.
Come get on the Hope Train with me now. And if you happen to find yourself off of it again - then get back on! Jill