I’ve always gotten a kick out of the demotivational statement
“Since I gave up hope I feel much better.”
I see Job falling into the same line of thinking.
But as it is, my grief remains no matter how I defend myself. And it does not help if I refuse to speak… Here I sit in sackcloth. I have surrendered, and I sit in the dust. My eyes are red with weeping; darkness covers my eyes… My spirit is crushed, and I am near death. The grave is ready to receive me… My eyes are dim with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self… My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken… But where then is my hope? Can anyone find it? – Job 16:6,15-16 Job 17:1,7,11,15
He sees his hope as dying, if not dead already.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12
I can see that Job’s heart is definitely sick, his “heart’s desires are broken” and he no longer has hope. But the Psalmist tells me that the Lord is watching those who wait with hope on him.
The LORD’s eyes are on those who fear him, on those who wait with hope for his mercy. – Psalm 33:18
He added later that I need to wait expectantly – in hope.
Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. – Psalm 42:5
Jeremiah wrote that the person who does so is blessed – or happy.
But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. – Jeremiah 17:7
That means that hope is a huge antidote to despair. But something else is required to establish that hope. I see two things that can make it more tangible.
The first is past experience.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4
We can look through God’s written word and find it replete with examples of hope being fulfilled. In fact the following verses seem to me to be a synopsis of Job’s suffering.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust – there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. – Lamentations 3:21-33
As we know, silence would have been the best option for Job and his friends. And even though grief was allowed into Job’s life, compassion did come in the end.
The second thing which makes hope more tangible is grace.
John Bevere in his latest book, Extraordinary, equates grace with power. He makes a very compelling argument that God’s grace is his empowerment for us to succeed in life and live extraordinarily. Here is just one verse which shows the relationship of grace and power.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
It seems pretty clear, God’s grace = God’s power. So with that in mind I see that the writer of Romans is showing that hope is a product of the grace given us.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. – Romans 5:1-5
Again, I see that God’s power is what makes hope possible.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
Thankfully, unlike Job we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us if we are Christians. And therefore we have his empowering grace – grace that gives overflowing good hope.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
So, are you in despair? Are you enduring a trial? Do you see no way out? Trust in God’s word and in his grace to give you all you need to come through it.
Father, thank you for hope. May I remember in my times of trouble where it comes from. In Jesus’ name, Amen.