Summary: A lesson from the life of Job about keeping our hope in the idst of seemingly hopeless situations.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;–Job 19:25, 26
THE JOY OF HOPE
A good definition of hope is, “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” As we move deeper into 2007, the hope that we had on January 1 may be a little less bright today than it was then. With new years come renewed hopes that things will be better in the future than they were in the past. But already, just 6 weeks into this year, there are many of us who are experiencing a loss of hope that things will indeed get any better. Loved ones have been lost, expectations have been un-fulfilled, relationships have deteriorated, confidences have been broken, disappointments have mounted one on top of the other. For many of us, hope is already dissipating; for many of us, we are already settling in to the same emotional and spiritual rut that we were in at the end of 2006.
But if that describes your situation, let me suggest something that may be of help to you in maintaining your joy: Your joy need not be dependent on circumstances. In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet gives a lengthy explanation of what’s wrong with his circum-stances and the circumstances of his people. He tells God that destruction and violence are before him and that strife and conflict abound; he says that the law is paralyzed and that justice never prevails; he says that the wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk goes on to complain to God that righteous and obedient servants like himself are made to suffer great affliction and humiliation, while unbelievers and heathens prosper at their expense and lord over them as rulers and dictators. And under such circumstances, it’s understandable that Habakkuk would have a hard time maintaining his hope. But in response to his complaint, God says two things: He says that circumstances will get worse before they get better. But God also says that at the appointed time, He will rectify the situation. And even though the circumstances didn’t change, Habakkuk’s hope was revived because he knew that God had heard him. I hear him say, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my Strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”
For a lot of us today, our lost hope is because we’re depending on circumstances, which are things that are out of our control. But for those who are in Christ, we know that our hope transcends our circumstances, for our hope is in the one who controls all circum-stances. And even when circumstances aren’t what we want them to be, we can maintain hope in the One who holds us and all circumstances in His hands.