This past friday evening I was asked this question, “What is the definition of hope?” and due to the very recent events, I actually went blank in how to answer them for a moment. Now reflecting back on that conversation, I would give this answer for the same questions. Right now, I feel that this is a good definition of hope--
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God…”
- Isaiah 43:2-3a
I have never quite understood or experienced the level of panic, fear, terror, or even anxiety and depression that many others have. This season and this month, can have a way of making many people feeling alone in the sea of people and events. And even feel hopeless. The dark Idaho days can seem long and never ending.
Have you ever felt like you don’t know what to do or even how to pray in times that feel hopeless? Or perhaps like you can’t even think in the midst of a trial or hardship or seclusion, like your brain is helpless, and all of your schooling all of your life experience, all of your strength in one moment feels for not?
I think that it is safe to say that you have experienced discouragement at some point in your life. No matter the cause, you’ve been there, even if it was just for a short period of time, you’ve been down. This paragraph is a quote from an incredible book I’m currently reading called “HQ- Hope Quotient” - by pastor and author, Ray Johnston. “You’re going to get down this year, It’s just going to happen. You may be there right now, but if you stay down, your education doesn’t matter. Your theology doesn’t matter. Your skill level doesn’t matter. Your financial backing doesn’t matter. If you get down and stay down, you will drown. The only thing that will keep you from going under is hope. Hope makes you buoyant. Hope liberates. Hope motivates. Hope initiates. Hope activates. That’s why hope is so important. The polar opposite of hope is discouragement. It acts like a dead weight around your neck.”
As I think on through many things, and think of many people who I personally know are struggling I remember what I read recently. Ray Johnston also writes this “Hope is not some unreliable sensation- Feelings are inconsistent. They come and go. Wishing is not hope. Positive thinking is not hope. Goal setting is not hope. Hope is something you intentionally build into your life.”
Feelings are important to listen to and learn from, wishing can inspire us to go get something, positive thinking FAR outweighs negative thinking and negative thoughts, God tells us to have our thoughts dwell on things above, and goal setting is important, God tells us to work out our salvation. Even with all of those things being good things, they are not the root, they are not the source that allows them to be effective long term.
Why did Jesus come to this world amongst his own creation?
Because He loved us, and that gives me hope.
Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus?
Because what Jesus did, dying for us, to save us from hell...gave us hope.
Why can we trust that God will be with us in Deep Waters?
Because He has been there before us, and He is there with us no matter our choices in those times!
Why am I able to trust that I won’t drown in rivers of difficulty?
Because my hope is not in my strength to handle it the raging torrent, though I may try initially. My hope is in HIM who is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine.
Why will I not be burned up and consumed in Oppression’s fire?
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
Jesus is my Why. Jesus is my Hope.
Jesus walked on top of the Deep Waters.
Outreach and Student Life Ministries Leader