There is nothing worse than a Christian with no hope. I mean by definition, a Christian should have hope when nobody else does. We are children of God, are loved by God and are assured in the bible that God will never leave us or forsake us so how is it that a Christian can be without hope?
Well, I’m not sure there is a short answer to this but for me it happened slowly. It seemed life itself just slowly sucked away my hope one drop at a time. When I became a Christian, I had that new Christian fire and enthusiasm. I believed the bible wholeheartedly and believed everyone else who was a Christian did too. It seemed really simple back then, God said it, it’s true, let’s go do it or go get it. Life will be wonderful and we will all hold hands and sing praises to Jesus!!
Well, a few years and churches later, I learned believing isn’t always so simple and that initial fire and enthusiasm seemed out of reach. And then there was just life. Situations and circumstances really began to put my faith to the test. It seemed I was enduring life rather than living it. I became that reactive Christian who wasn’t looking to pick a fight with the devil but was rather trying to escape an endless array of tricks and traps he and my flesh set before me. I was frustrated and I had allowed my hope to be drained by circumstances. What was worse, some of those circumstances were the result of my bad choices, so I couldn’t really whine about those, rather just had to outlast them. I remember reminding the Lord (as if He didn’t know this) that in the Old Testament people got their debts forgiven after 7 years. (Neh 10:31) I was thinking isn’t it about time for this current set of circumstances to turn around and for me to have a better end than the beginning like Job. (Job 42:12). But somehow, this was not happening..I really started to wonder was anything happening. I couldn’t see any progress.
It was really a kind of ironic situation. I had finally found a church that is not bound by tradition and I was encouraged to use my gifts to serve God’s people. I was teaching bible study, had the opportunity to preach a Sunday sermon from time to time so from the outside at least it looked like all was well as far as my spiritual situation. While the church was and is a perfect environment for growth, that somehow was no longer enough. I was busy working in the church, but not really working for the Lord. I was busy with the work of the ministry but I was neglecting the nurturing of my own heart. I allowed my heart to become sick. I couldn’t see any progress in my circumstances because my spiritual eyes were clouded.
Proverbs 4:23 says I must keep my heart with all diligence because out of it are the issues of life. My busyness in life and church made it impossible for me to do anything else diligently. Something had to go. As I began to invest time in prayer daily, it did not take God long to make it clear to me my heart was the problem and I needed to reconnect with Him and seek the intimacy with Him I used to long for when we first met.
Jesus never failed to take time to refocus, reconnect, and adjust after serving the people. His connection with the Father was solid and He was never confused about His purpose or what was the next thing to do. I needed to make time to do the same thing. I found myself involved in many necessary church tasks that I had acquired because I am dependable. While that is functionally fine for the church, it was wearing me out. The tasks were necessary but not necessarily mine. God reminded me I am His servant, my priorities should come from Him and the first one will always be intimacy with Him above all. I began to connect the dots…when I first believed I was diligent about my relationship with God…took time to pray and read my bible daily because I was hungry to know Him. As time passed, my hunger for Him was replaced by the details of life and church work. Day by day my hope leaked out as I failed to reconnect with the source of my strength and the reason for my hope.
After 5 days of tearful prayers and heartfelt cries for help, God overwhelmed me with His hope. He showed me He is in control of all of my circumstances and can change them at will despite what I think or what seems to be impossible. He showed me the reason my circumstances had not changed yet is because my heart needed correcting. God is always more concerned with internal issues than external ones!! He showed me He is molding my heart carefully and purposefully and I must be diligent about maintaining all the changes He makes. In a moment God gave me hope. There is something very wonderful about knowing for real that God is working on you in the place you’re in. (I know the bible says He is [Philippians 1:6] but knowing that verse and living that verse is a whole other thing. Every now and then I need an actual encounter with the Lord to refocus.)
There is something beautiful about knowing it is all good between you and God and there is purpose in what is happening that makes just about anything bearable. Uncertainty makes enduring difficult. Psalms 27:13 says I had fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. That verse says in other words hope brings strength and the only place to get hope is from the author of it. So if like me your hope has been leaking out slowly, or if it is gone altogether, make it a point to reconnect with your Savior so He can restore your hope and strength. And once we get it back, let’s do everything in our power to guard our hope filled hearts so God can use us and bless us like never before.