Devotional Thought: How does "hope" grow?
Romans 5:3-4 - Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character;and character, hope."(NIV)
We often have "hope" when starting new adventures - a new school year, job, relationship, or activity. We hope the new adventure will lead to happiness and fulfillment. While we may begin new adventures with hope, disappointments often lead to a loss of hopeful expectation. Often, to regain a sense of hope, we often seek a change in circumstances rather than persevere and mature in character through them. When disappointed or frustrated, we may look for a new job, school, relationship, church, spouse, etc. This cycle leads to a "hope" dependant upon circumstances. This cycle diminishes "hope" over time rather than grows & matures it.
The Bible teaches that “hope”, like other virtues, develops and matures not by on-going change of circumstances, but through perseverance in hardship. Some people think if they find just the right person, then they'll experience real love. But Jesus taught us to love our enemies. He said anyone can love people who love them. Love matures through hardships. Faith is another virtue that needs to be tested through hardships to mature.
In the Bible, the word "hope" is often connected to circumstances where having hope is difficult. "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed (God's promise), and so became the father of many nations" (Romans 4:18). God doesn't want hope to be grounded in circumstances, but in Him. Thus, much of Scripture encourage us to “hope in the Lord” - especially in the midst of disappointing or hopeless situations.
I used to look at a small church like ours and think "there isn't much hope for that church." My "hope" for a church was often tied to the number of people or programs. Some might visit our church like and think our name "Hope Alive" doesn't fit. It does fit, IF our hope is in the "God of hope" (Romans 15:13). Our hope needs to be in Him.
Do you want to grow in hope? Rather than change your circumstances, ask what is presently determining your sense of hope. Is it your circumstances, or is it God? Rather than change your circumstances, seek to change yourself and put your hope in the Lord – His person, promises, & power.
Facing Hard Times
Read Psalm 102:1–28; 104:1–35
Published: May 26, 2017
Pat became depressed when her husband’s health declined. She spent worry-filled days and sleepless nights caring for him. It seems that the writer of Psalm 102 would have understood her depression and the accompanying issues.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones (Psalm 102:4–5).
Life on this side of heaven is sometimes stressful and challenging. Even the writers of Scripture sometimes felt overwhelmed by their troubles. The writer of Psalm 104 seems to have been at very low point—too stressed to eat and losing weight. And yet the writer chose to seek God and to praise Him for His greatness while affirming that God “release those condemned to death” (Psalm 102:20).
When life’s circumstances seem overwhelming, follow the Psalmist’s example and seek God while praising Him for His greatness.
Challenge for Today: Praise God no matter what crisis you face.
Quicklook: Psalm 102:2–13
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