UNWAVERING HOPE

I yanked open the refrigerator and hastily pulled out food that would comprise my toddler’s lunch. Since we’ve been heavily traveling over the past month, (and she’s consumed more chicken nuggets than one should in childhood), I decided to reach for something a tad more nutritious. Thankfully, I had some leftovers that I thought would do just the trick.

Grabbing the Tupperware container in one hand, I pulled a multitasking-mom-move and placed a carton of milk under one arm while holding Sydney’s lunch in my other hand. While still standing in front of the fridge with my arms loaded, I commenced to remove the vacuum sealed lid from the container and close the refrigerator door all at the same time. As I tugged on the cover, my hasty decision to multitask back-fired and the container flew up-up-up in the air, performing a triple axel, before crashing on the floor at my feet.

I suppose at this point it would be a good idea to fill you in on the contents of the said container:

BEETS!

Yep, my kitchen looked like a crime scene.

All I wanted to do was feed my kiddo a super-food. And what thanks did I get?  Red beet juice, which looks a whole heck of a lot like human blood, splattered on every crevice of my kitchen. The entire refrigerator stained crimson. Broccoli bathed red. Beet pieces where beet pieces should never be. And don’t even get me started on my tile grout.

CSI would have had a field day in there.

I handed the baby off to a friend with some non-nutritious snack while I commenced to clean up the mess. I wiped down the walls, mopped up the floor, and cleaned out the refrigerator.

Standing back up from my work, my friend observed me and laughed.  You see, I was covered from head to toe in the same scarlet red juice. Looking down at myself I realized my clothes were covered with beet stains.

As my friend fed Sydney her lunch, she looked up and asked, “Do you have any hope of salvaging those clothes?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied, “Oh, absolutely. I’ll use Oxyclean, and they will be just fine.”

I was certain, confident, and expectant that my laundry detergent would take care of the stains on my clothing. What appeared to be an impossible situation was met with unwavering hope.  I fully believed my terribly damaged clothes would come out unscathed if only I used the cleaner. Shrugging it off as if it was not a big deal, I told my friend that it would be okay, and then in an act of faith, I sprayed Oxyclean on the spots and tossed my stained garments in the wash.

After whipping up something else for the baby’s lunch, I went to take a much-needed shower. As I reflected on the mayhem, I started pondering the unwavering confidence and unshakeable hope I placed in a simple cleaning product. As I washed the remaining beet bits from my hair, the thought occurred to me:

Do I hope in Jesus to the same degree that I do my favorite laundry detergent?

Just think about the words I used to describe my emotions:

Certain

Confident

Expectant

What if we could encounter any mess with the same level of hopefulness?

The Bible is filled with exhortations for us to hope in God. Scripture calls us to face life’s challenging circumstances with an unwavering confidence that our God is with us, for us, and more than able to deliver, provide, protect, defend, comfort, shelter, and save us. Our call is to hope (in Him) for all these needs. Here are a few examples:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation. Psalm 42:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Often we confuse hope with wishful thinking or mere optimism.  Wishful thinking says, “I sure hope I win the lottery” or “I hope our team wins the big game.”  Wishful thinking is not wrong, but it is not the kind of hope that God calls us to as His children.  Why? Because there is no basis for confidence or trust … It is merely a wish.

We also confuse hope with optimism., which is when we look at a bad situation and either ignore it or downplay it.  I’m not saying that having an optimistic personality is a fault, what I am saying is that there is a big difference between optimism and hope. Hope looks at even the worst case scenario and believes that God can remedy the situation. Biblical hope is a confident expectation. It proves to be our faith in God that expects Him to deliver upon His promises.

A great example of biblical hope is found in the book of Joshua. The Lord told his people that He would give them the Promised Land.  Yet, they also faced many battles and challenges in taking this land.  When facing some fierce opposition, Joshua responded with unwavering hope in the Lord. Notice how he looked at the obstacles before them:

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” Joshua 10:25

Don’t miss this! Joshua said, “This is what the Lord will do!!” He looked at the problem, and he didn’t dismiss it with mere optimism, nor did he say “I wish God would help us.” No, Joshua said, “This is what the Lord will do!”He expressed an unwavering hope and confident expectation in God.

How do we learn to hope like this? There are three aspects to hope; which are believing God, entrusting our cares to Him, and waiting upon the Lord.

  • Believing God—A woman cannot hope in God if she does not know or believe Him.  The basis of our hope is in our knowledge of who God is and believing His Word. To increase your unwavering hope in the Lord, I recommend saturating your mind with scripture.  Think about Joshua. He was able to look at the battle before him without fear because he believed God promised His people the land and trusted that God would deliver on His promise.

The same is true for us. When our minds are filled with God’s truth, then we can stand firm on His promises and look towards an unknown future with confidence.  As one of my heroes, Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Always trust an unknown future to a known God.” To experience real, unwavering hope, we must first believe God. Friends, never forget, believing is a choice we make.

  • Entrust your cares—The second aspect of hope is choosing to rely on God for your needs and concerns. Yes, there is a big difference between believing God is able and trusting Him with your needs.  To entrust my cares to God means I turn to him when I have a need or concern. So often we rely on friends, family, self, or the government instead of the One who is truly able to care for us. The act of hoping in God is when we look at the situation squarely and say with confidence, “My hope is in Jesus for ….” Fill in the blank with your present situation. Who or what are you hoping in to fix the problem? Anyone or anything other than Jesus is where we are placing our hope.
  • Wait upon the Lord—The final aspect of hope is perhaps the most difficult. That is waiting. As we believe God and entrust our needs to Him in prayer, we then enter into a season where we wait.  God does not always work on our timetable nor does He answer in ways that we expect. In that wait, we are often tested. Will we continue to hope in God even when we can’t see Him working? Will we continue to hope in God when circumstances seem to go from bad to worse?  It is in waiting that we learn the real secret of hope.  Waiting is when our hope shifts from focusing on a particular outcome to the Person of Christ.

In my new book, Stand, I share about dating my husband, Justin. I tell of a season before we were married when Justin was under a spiritual attack and besieged with fears and doubts that caused him to end our dating relationship. It was then, in the midst of my broken heart and uncertain future, that I first heard God whisper the word “stand.”

As I faced the painful reality that I was single again in my late 30s, I found in my heart a hope in God that anchored me.  Like Joshua who looked at a battle and said, “This is what the Lord will do,” I felt in my spirit an unwavering confidence in God that said, “Stand and see the deliverance of the Lord.”

I can’t tell the full story in this post, but in a split second, I faced a choice… stand and hope in God for my future or crumble into bitter despair? Friends, I was only able to stand because I believed God could overcome the battle I faced. I knew I had entrusted my desire for marriage to Jesus and He would provide if marriage were His highest and best for me. And finally, I was able to stand because I had learned the ultimate secret of hope while waiting on the Lord during my single years.

Can we truly trust an unknown future to a known God? The secret I learned while waiting was this… hope is not about an expected outcome; it is about intimately knowing the God who holds your future. I could face my unknown future with an unwavering hope because I had grown to know Jesus deeply and trust that all my days were in His good hands.  I looked at my future and believed, “He’s got this.” With that confidence, I was able to rest. As the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope…great is your faithfulness!”  The fuel for the hope that burns within us is the certain confidence we have in the goodness of God.

As I write these words, I face new reasons to hope in God. As the mother of a one-year-old little girl, I encounter numerous fears and concerns that I must combat with confident assurance in the goodness, power, and love of my God.  Just as I hoped in my laundry detergent to rid my clothes of nasty stains, I must choose to hold that same level of confidence in the Lord who created all things… including my child. The practice of hoping in God is not something we graduate from at a certain age or stage of life. To hope in Jesus is the air we breathe as believers on this earth until we see Him face to face and He makes all things new.

Marian

beet photo via

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