Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
“I hope the traffic isn’t tied up again this morning.”
“I hope the restaurant’s not busy.”
“I hope my boss is in a good mood today.”
“I hope the game doesn’t get rained out.”
HOPE expresses a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. And it comes in varying degrees of intensity. Hoping you don’t have leftover meatloaf for dinner is less concerning than hoping the mortgage company won’t foreclose on your house.
In fact, hope is just a word until we are threatened with a life challenge.
“I hope it’s not cancer.”
“I hope he doesn’t get orders to Afghanistan.”
“I hope the court rules in my favor.”
When things don’t turn out as we hoped, we can be disappointed. Based on the importance of the thing hoped for — we may become desperate, depressed, and hopeless.
As Christians, we are never without hope. But let’s be real. Those things we hope for often fall short of our positive expectations. Things go wrong. People we love die. Bad problems get worse. Bad things happen to good people.
Have you ever fervently prayed for something that ended badly? You may have even felt that God had let you down. You lived and prayed by the Book. Claimed every promise you could find. But instead of the blessing you were sure you were going to get, the result was more like a curse.
Let’s look at our focus text from Psalm 31:24. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Consider the source of hope. It’s not the thing hoped for, but “the Lord.” We can “be strong and take heart” because we have placed our hope, not in the thing we need or want, but “the Lord.”
Hope that does not disappoint is rooted in God’s love. Check out the NKJV rendering of Romans 5:5.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
As a young man, I wanted more than anything to find a girl to love and who would love me in return. It meant more than establishing a career or attaining a good income. My greatest need was love.
Ultimately, I found what I was looking for. And by the grace of God we’re still together. In that time, there have been many things I’ve hoped for that failed. But through it all, love has prevailed. Tough times have taught us to say, “We still have each other.” Paul’s instruction about love was spot on. “Love never fails.”(1 Corinthians 13:8)
Hope doesn’t disappoint because God’s love resides within us, “…poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” Our basic need for love has been met by God in a most amazing way.
If your hope is in God then you can “be strong and take heart” even in the midst of tragedy. The greatest love of all lives in you to comfort, console, encourage, counsel, and help through your darkest hours.
There’s an important key here regarding hope. As Christians, we hope FOR things — but we hope IN the Lord. Even when we are shaken by our circumstances, God always has everything under control. His indwelling love is a constant reminder He has our best interest at heart. Don’t be deceived by the appearances of your predicament. Be relieved by the certainty of God’s love.
Now, to be certain you have caught onto the subtlety of this spiritual truth, I’ll ask two questions:
(1) What are you hoping for?
(2) Who is your hope in?
Keep your focus on the second question. You will always be encouraged and strengthened when your primary focus is your hope IN the Lord. In Him you will experience the truth of Philippians 4:7.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Learn God’s Will for Your Life
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.