HOPE the Hard Way

I recently was watching a documentary about a small county in West Virginia. It has somehow become the epicenter for the opiate epidemic. This community has been ravaged by a drug crisis that many were unprepared for, and that had no precedence.

A meeting of city officials and first responders shed light on the sentiment of the people closest to the front lines when a man stood up and protested saying that many felt it was no use trying to save these people. After all, they were just going to get out of the hospital, or the rehab, or the jail and go find another bag of drugs. Was the community just enabling them by saving their lives?

The Deputy Chief of the fire department stood up to address the man’s question. She conveyed that though the statistics looked bad, and all indicators told them the problem was only growing, that she could count in the hundreds the number of young lives they had saved. She continued to explain that it didn’t matter if she had to save someone fifty times, because the only prequalification for long-term addiction recovery was a pulse.

I was struck by her HOPEFULLNESS. In the middle of all the doom and gloom, here was a woman who saw death every day, yet never lost her drive to make a difference despite the insurmountable odds of failure.

This woman knew how to HOPE THE HARD WAY.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”


-Hebrews 11:1

This famous verse kicks off the “Faith Chapter” of the bible, and it goes on to list some of the most amazing acts of the saints throughout the Old Testament. Then we get to verse 13…

“These all DIED in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

-Hebrews 11:13

So you mean they ALL DIED before they ever saw the Promise of God happen?

But… that’s not fair… I mean what did they all even get for their faith?

I found the answer back in verse 2:

“For by it the elders obtained a GOOD TESTIMONY.”

-Hebrews 11:2

(Crickets)

A good testimony?

Come on!

This can’t really be faith… I mean you hear it all the time! I’ve heard a thousand stories about people who had faith for healing or a miracle, and by a total move of the LORD they were healed and the miracle came through. That’s what it’s supposed to look like, right?

You have HOPE & FAITH, and BAM! God provides.

But that’s not what this verse says… AT ALL!

You see, what made me want to wrap my mind around this subject is because I know the feeling of praying and believing that something is going to change, but like a brick wall it doesn’t budge…

I’ve beaten my fists against it, cried tears over it, and tried again.

Heck! If you would’ve told me to march around it seven times I would have done it, but my wall is STILL in-tact…

In fact, the only thing showing cracks around here is my heart…

So what is God trying to show us with this verse?

Remember that PROMISE in verse 2?

I started thinking about some of the stories, Abraham and Sarah, for example; it would seem to all who read that they received their promise. I mean God opened Sarah’s womb, and she gave birth to a son in her old age. That was the longing of her heart, more than anything, to be a mother.

So why does verse two say that she and Abraham died having not seen the PROMISE?

It’s probably not a hard one for you folks, because guess what? You have seen the PROMISE!

It may not feel like it…

You may feel like God has forgotten your prayers, but I “promise” you that you have seen it! Or should I say Him?

Jesus! Our Savior! The One who came down to save us from our mess! That Guy!

Yep!

He IS the Promise!

It dawned on me that somehow in this messy business of faith, that somewhere along the line my faith had drifted from hoping in the One who saves me to the saving part.

Our hope is Jesus, and any time that we place that hope on our circumstances we are going to be DISAPPOINTED.

He is the source of life for us. The source of purpose, fulfillment, and love to everyone who calls on His name.

Miracles happen, and it’s a beautiful thing when prayers are answered…

But I am reminded of John 6. Jesus had just fed the crowd of over 5,000 with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The people thronged Him and tried to make Him king immediately so He departed. The next day, Jesus rebuked the crowd:

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”


-Matthew 6:26-27

The people were more impressed with the miracle than they were with the One who performed it. Jesus corrected them and told them not to focus on what they could see in the natural world, but on the Loving God behind the scenes.

Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel, we must become the type of people who will look into a hopeless circumstance (for them it was getting thrown into a fiery furnace for not bowing to the king Nebuchadnezzar) and say, “I don’t know if God is going to take this circumstance away, but we still will not bow to you!”

We won’t bow under the pressure of what we see, because we have hope in something that cannot be taken…

Jesus commands us not to treasure what we can see in the earthly realm, but to lay up our treasures in Heaven. He says that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21)

Where is your treasure?

If you are a Christian, your hope must be in Jesus and Jesus alone. Everything else is just going to end up disappointing us in the long run.

I don’t know what trials you are facing today… but I do know that Jesus loves you more than you can fathom, that He is for you and not against you, and that even though you may be suffering from circumstances today you can still have the HOPE of eternity!

I pray that God will give us all the wisdom to focus on Him, and who He is rather than what He can do. I pray that we will draw closer to our Healer and Forgiver of our sins… because sometimes we just have to learn to HOPE the hard way. I want to leave you with a verse that has comforted me through so many battles:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”


-Romans 8:18

God bless!

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