We’ve all heard the expression, “A work in progress.” Well, my work in progress right now is “hope.” And, I must admit it is sometimes very hard work, too. But as another expression states, “Hope springs eternal”; therefore, hope is not transitory. I like that. It has an anchor, and for those of us who are Christian, that anchor is God through Jesus Christ. At the core of our hope is the cross.
Hope is one of the prevalent themes throughout the Bible. Numerous passages refer to it, and King David, even years before he was King, spoke of it often especially in the Psalms. In fact, during a time of distress in his life (of which he had many), he repeated the same statement three times in very short order (Psalm 42:5, 11, and 43:5):
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.”
Hope is the thing with wings that never gives up. Even in the midst of despair, hope shines through the darkness.
For the past several years at the beginning of each new year, I assigned a word to encompass what I hoped to learn during that year—an overarching theme for the year. In 2009 that word was “Joy” which was sorely tested as that was the year I lost my job in Houston and this long time of unemployment began. I discovered that joy was not tied into my circumstances, but in living relationship with Jesus Christ. “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Indeed, it was and is.
My theme for 2010 was “Love.” The ability to love was tested to the very core of my being. Learning to forgive people who had severely hurt me (from my former boss in Houston to others going back into my past) was paramount is finally reaching that place of understanding of what it truly means to love (I Cor. 13). Love cannot reside with anger, bitterness, and/or a lack of forgiveness. I had to melt down years of anger and hurt before the seeds of love could take root. I’m still not perfect at this by any means, but I’ve come a very long way in a very short time, and repentance was a key factor in letting go.
And now we come to “Hope,” my theme for 2011. The landscape of unemployment has not only been far reaching but also long lasting across America with hardly a glimmer of hope in sight for the millions of us who are unemployed. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12a); however, Prov. 13:12b goes on to state, “but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” Hope is closely tied to faith and faith is what has kept me going during this marathon race with endurance. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). If it was not for faith, I would have no hope, and my faith, as well as my hope, is anchored in the only One who can help–Jesus Christ.
I never expected to be unemployed for this long (two years and almost four months now), and I certainly didn’t expect to still be unemployed by the time my unemployment benefits ended almost three months ago, making me one of the millions of people in America who have already exhausted their unemployment benefits with still no employment opportunities in sight (a group known as the “99’ers”). While the days of waiting sometimes get long and frustrating it is hope that keeps me going. As King David said so long ago, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7).
For those of you who are a part of the same generation as me, and if you grew up in church in your younger years, you may remember a great song that was sung (and still needs to be sung in churches across America today) titled, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” That song was inspired by Lam. 3:22-26:
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions they fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
Therefore I hope in Him.’ ”
Great is His faithfulness! Let us never forget His faithfulness in the midst of our trials, and may it encourage us when we are weary to the bone with waiting. Our hope rests in His faithfulness, and His mercies are new every morning.
May this song encourage you:
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