Updated: Dec 18, 2018
It's December. The end of one year. Almost the beginning of a new year. I wonder what your answer would be if I asked you what you were hoping for?
Perhaps this year has had more challenges and tears than you ever imagined and you have to look hard to find a glimmer of hope and excitement about a new year. Or perhaps you are already brimming with hope at the prospect of a great year rolling into an even greater year.
We recently had our annual Waymakers Missions Africa board meeting. What a wonderful time to reconnect and to reflect and to share dreams and visions for the future of those least reached people in the North Western region of Zambia. Amidst all the discussions, I had this incredible sense that the most pressing need of the people was hope. He promises in Jer 29:11 (NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Most of the people we met over our short 3 month stay there had no hope. Just living day to day. Hand to mouth. Hard pressed to see a future.
A word search on Bible Gateway, reveals that the word "hope" appears 180 times in the Bible and occurs most in Psalms (34 times) and Job (18 times). To me it comes as no surprise that the need for hope is greater under difficult circumstances. In fact having no hope makes it so much worse as Solomon reminds us that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..." (Prov 13:12, NIV).
Hope encapsulates such a powerful vastness. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Heb 11:1, NIV) In the NLV, it says "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen..."
What have you been hoping for? In who have you been putting your hope?
If you asked me that question, I think I would've answered differently yesterday. But today made me realise that perhaps I had recently been putting my hope in people and their projects and the prospect of collaboration. And when it didn't materialise, it was like a door slamming shut in my face. Hope deferred... But most graciously and lovingly the whisper came: In who have you been putting your hope?
"...the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." (Psalm 147:11, NIV).
More perhaps than any time of the year, we are reminded at Christmas that the birth of Jesus brought hope and therefore "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Her 10:23, NIV).
May you, like me, have a renewed awareness in what we are hoping for. May we put our hope in Him and not in people or things. No matter if this had been a good or a awful year, He is still good and you have hope because He is faithful. Unwavering hope. Especially for what is unseen.