In Times Like These—Hope, Through Faith & Prayer
Our Nation Needs Hope . . .
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalms 16:9)
As a nation, we have gone through some of the most torturous times any of us have ever lived through, and many of those who began this journey with us, did not make it through. Once again our hearts are heavy with grief. We're praying as we're mourning for the loss of thousands, some we knew, some we did not know, some who were our loved ones. The innocent, the beautiful, and the beloved. And we're praying for love to touch the hearts of those who are touched by COVID-19, who don't know how to seek help, or where to discover hope. We may never understand the why, but we know that even though hope is sometimes hard to find, that still, we must have hope.
If you have faith, hope is never far away. Because of faith, you can always find hope through prayer. I trust God, and that helps me to believe that when you believe in the promises of God, faith will lead you to the discovery of all the hope you need. Even though it must, at times, be replenished, renewed, or rediscovered, hope is always just a prayer away.
This article is about hope. Hope for living a happier, more courageous life. Hope for developing a stronger and more sincere connection with God and with His purpose for your life. Hope for personal strength, peace and contentment. Hope for love. Hope for joy. Hope for happiness. Hope for getting through no matter how hard life comes at you. Hope for letting go when you have to. Hope for endurance. Hope for closure. Hope for new happiness when your old happiness is no longer true.
But what is hope? God's Instruction Manual says it begins with waiting in patience for that we see not. The Bible speaks of hope in Roman 8:24-27:
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
We need Big Faith, and More Hope . . .
We need stronger, bigger faith, and always, more hope. God wants us to know that hope is more than simply waiting in patient expectation for that we cannot see. The Scripture from Romans goes on to explain the nature of God-guided hope. It tells us that when we wait with patience for that we cannot see, the Holy Spirit becomes involved to help our infirmities—our weaknesses, because we're not even strong enough to know how to pray for strength. But with faith, because of the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re not just waiting, we’re also getting stronger because we're being helped along in our patience, and in our wait by the Holy Spirit of God. And the Holy Spirit of God is:
1. Helping us get beyond our infirmities—our weaknesses—by strengthening us from the inside out.
2. Improving our ability to pray “for what we should pray for as we ought" to pray.
3. Making intercession for us, petitioning God in our favor.
4. Making groaning for us that cannot be uttered. No one except God can hear the groaning of the Holy Spirit, because the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit makes sounds that cannot be uttered.
When we have faith, the Holy Spirit is there, fighting for us. It is acting inside of us, to help us as we hope. Because of our belief in a living God who cannot lie, we know we have a reason for hope. Because we have the Holy Spirit residing in us, we’re empowered in patience and guided in how to pray and in what to say to God. We also have the Holy Spirit petitioning God on our behalf as we pray.
When we have hope born of faith, we don’t have to worry about our thoughts and prayers being strong enough to reach God, because we have extra arms linked to God in the form of the Holy Spirit. We have an intermediary acting on our behalf. And finally, as if all this were not enough, we have the Holy Spirit making utterances, groaning in a way that we cannot hear.
The Scripture teaches that as we give over our hope to the will of God, in the process we are searching our own hearts. The Holy Spirit empowers us with a knowing that God’s will is going to be done. Sometimes God will allow the Holy Spirit to let us know the outcome of things hoped for, before the actual outcome is realized. It may not always be a conscious knowing, but our inner spirit knows what God’s desire is, and the peace it sends tells us everything is going to be all right.
This kind of knowing is something private between you and God. Deep down inside, you are content because you know God has heard your prayer, therefore you become able to live in patient hope and contented expectation.
Hope in the Promises of God
Psalms 31:24 teaches: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
Good courage leads to a stronger heart that is strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Good courage develops from having faith to believe God’s promises for your life. This belief, this faith, is the cornerstone of hope.
The apostle Paul teaches us the way of hope in Colossians 2:6-7, where he says:
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
As we move forward in our personal relationship with God, we must always remember to give thanks to God for the gift of understanding and knowing. Holding on to faith, being built up by it and established in it, keeps us strong—no matter how much it is tested. It keeps us standing steadfast in hard times. Even when life looks dreary, even when light seems to be shrouded in darkness, and even when it seems there is no sound reason to have hope, through faith we find it. We discover it, once again, in a loving place it waits, cradling the expectation of peace that we need to know we will experience, again, all that God has promised, including that which is not yet seen or felt.
The Best Place to Find Hope
Our first glimmer of hope is discovered when we begin developing a more steadfast, unwavering faith in God. Everything else comes next. Grounding our hope in faith is where the beauty lies. It is the poetry of life and of light, that which God created for us to seek and to find. The Bible teaches in Psalms 78:7:
“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.”
We must make sure that when we are hoping, we’re hoping in God. Hoping in God is different from hoping something will happen outside the realm of belief and faith in God. Even those who don’t believe in God can hope. But, without God, hope is not founded on God's promises. It is “hoping against hope” which Webster’s defines as “to hope without any basis for expecting fulfillment.” People cannot promise anything with regard to our hopes, because no human controls things hoped for (even though many believe that they do).
We are taught in Psalms 146:5-6:
“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever.”
The apostle Paul prayed in Romans 15:13:
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Hope, through faith in God, is the antidote for discouragement. It keeps you in tune with God through the Holy Spirit, patiently and expectantly waiting for provision or deliverance. It is a circle of connection. It joins you with the power of the Holy Spirit, giving you the strength you need to keep discovering the hope you need to get through it all.
With faith, you never have to hope in vain. God has promised us that with Him, hope is real. On Him, we can depend. No matter how dark things may seem, He is in control. With faith we walk with God, and with God, everything works together for good. God’s plan may be different from your plan, or from my plan. We don't always understand God's plans. But we can be sure that His purpose is always greater than ours. And that is why we have to build our hopes on things eternal by holding to God’s unchanging hand.
In hope we can defeat darkness and evil—even as the flames of hell are licking at our heels. Faith in God keeps us looking up, when everything seems to be melting down. It keeps us balanced, safe and secure, when we’re walking on a tightrope. It envelops us in positive thoughts, compels us to seek the counsel of positive-minded people, and sometimes sends them looking for us when we are too weak to walk.
Life lived in the positive light of hope keeps us grounded, raised too high up and too close to God for darkness to overtake and defeat us. It provides for us a foundation, established and poised to believe; destined to emerge triumphant.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD