Thursday, February 9, 2012

Choosing Hope

"Why so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." Psalm 42:5

As 2012 made her grand entry into all of our lives, you may have heard a theme emerging in many prophetic words and messages. Hope! Funny, but the very word 'hope' conjures up different images for different people. To some, hope may be a scary thing. Those who have hoped, only to have their dreams dashed on the rocks of the very shores from which they had longed to one day set sail, no longer want to risk this elusive thing called hope. Proverbs calls this 'hope deferred' and even goes so far as to say, 'it makes the heart sick'. The word 'deferred' means 'to put off until a later time'. And this is Satan's insidious plot. He inserts himself into our circumstances and his chief goal it seems would be to remove our hope. After all, his hope has been removed and he wants us to take a ride with him on the sinking ship called 'Hopelessness'. This is a miserable place to find ourselves. I know because I have been there before, and know that I never want to go back.

Long before 2012 arrived, I was being prodded by the message of 'hope'. A certain difficult issue had crept into my world and I hate to admit it, but I felt somewhat hopeless. I'm grateful that Holy Spirit wouldn't leave me alone on this one and kept nudging me towards the truth. In a moment of insight one day, I realized that hopelessness is really just unbelief in a little nicer sounding package. In other words, when I was feeling hopeless I was basically saying that it's too late for God to work, or it's too difficult for Him or He doesn't care about this situation.

Remember how it was unbelief that kept the children of Israel from entering into the Promise Land? If we could have interviewed them as they circled the desert over and over, they would have told us that they, too, felt hopeless. Repeatedly, they were given choices throughout their journey. Each time they had to decide whether or not they would trust God (and hope) or would they grumble, complain, and feel sorry for themselves, manifesting their unbelief and hopelessness. We know how the story ends.

It is no wonder that it was Joshua and Caleb who entered the land of promise. They were two men who chose not to look at the circumstances or giants who faced them, but who chose to be men of hope and believed in a God who does what He says He will do.

Though we may not be wandering in a sandy desert, we have our own set of issues to overcome and the choices really boil down to the same choices as those of Joshua and Caleb. Will I trust God in spite of what I can see with my natural eyes? Will I choose to hope in my God and not give way to self-pity, bitterness, and defeat?
I am so aware that there are incredibly difficult circumstances that many face everyday. The temptation to give up, throw in the towel, or even settle for a lesser level of living is something that we all will face just because we live on planet Earth.

But, we as believers are called to a higher level of living. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is from Francis Frangipane, " Any area of your life that does not glisten with hope is under the influence of a lie." When I first heard that I almost felt mad! How could every area of my life 'glisten' with hope?  I began to learn that my perception of God was way too small. There is no situation too far gone that He can not still redeem. Anything other than that way of thinking is under the influence of a lie.

We have been in a season of training and things that were acceptable in our thinking 10 years ago are no longer acceptable. God has his finger on hope right now and as He births this new wave of grace to hope, I pray we will become a culture of hope that is attractive like a magnet to this hurting world.

We have a choice, and we can choose hope.

"He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Heb. 10:37-38