sunrise

Driven by Hope

By A.C.

Many people who turn out to be successful in life seem to be driven by some inner force. And that one thing is the essential element that keeps them motivated no matter how distant their ultimate goals may be. A successful business man or woman can be driven by money or material things. A professional athlete can be driven by the thought of one day being a champion. Hollywood stars are usually consumed by seeing their name in lights. Fame to these celebrities seem to be their most inspiring factor. The thought of reaching the pinnacle of a career that is obtainable by only a small percentage of the population is the driving force behind what society considers people who are successful. These people have achieved so called success because they have been driven by something other than just plain hard work.

If you asked the average Christian today what is the driving force behind their belief in God, you may hear all sorts of different answers. Faith, Grace, and Love are just a few that immediately come to mind. All of them are inspired and given by God and are a major part of our salvation. But behind all of these words that we know in our spirit to be true, is this small but powerful word called HOPE. Hope is the essential gift of God that not only inspires our salvation but ultimately drives it.

Now before I go any further, I want to make one important thing perfectly clear. Hope is not “a wish.” As Christians, we don’t wish for things to come true. We go to God faithfully in prayer knowing He will provide, according to His will, the very request we are making. And we believe, in hope, that through His love and kindness, He will answer those things we are asking. Now you may be thinking that you go to God through faith when you pray. And you absolutely do, but faith and hope are somehow joined together. Let me try to explain. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) Hope is an internal, joyous assurance of things to come, placed in our spirit by God Himself. According to the writer of Hebrews, hope is the confidence of our faith and the link to the unseen promises of God.

Now the bible tells us that Satan has many devices that he uses in order to get our focus off of serving God. Notice the word “devices” is plural, meaning that there are many of them. Sin is probably the biggest tool in his arsenal. It’s my opinion that attacking our hope, is right up there as well. He knows that because faith and hope are linked together, if he can damage one the other will fall also. How many of us have been on the brink of giving up not because we were tempted by Satan to sin but because we lost sight of God’s promises? These promises are given through hope. If Satan can discourage you and cause you to give up hope, he has the inside track on your faith. He will try and convince you that the promises and hope that are given in scripture are untrue or don’t apply to you. This is his first step in achieving his goal.

That’s why God not only puts these promises in writing but pledges them to us through someone we can have total assurance on: His SON. “For all the promises of God in Him (Christ Jesus) are yea…” (2 Corinthians 1:20 KJV) The New Living Translation seems to explain it a little clearer… “For ALL of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘YES!’” Remember this, our hope as His children is not that God applies His promises to us if we are lucky or through chance, it’s that He guarantees them through the life of His Risen Son. When you’re being attacked in your spirit and Satan is telling you “what’s the use of continuing?” keep in mind- Jesus is the source of all your hope.

Even the trials and hardships that God allow into our lives have divine purposes of supplying us with hope. Now most of us don’t look at it that way. How many of us when we are being beaten down by the problems of life have even the smallest sense that God is building up our Hope? I know I don’t. One of the first things we tend to do is blame these problems on our own mistakes, the misfortune that comes with life, or our own bad behavior. If you listen to certain so-called Christian ministers, they would have you believe unknown hidden sin is the cause for these troubles. Let’s look at the book of Romans for the true answer.

Romans 5:3-5 says, “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…” (NIV) Now you would think that it should read that suffering, perseverance, and character would produce strength and power to fight off the devil right? That’s how I would have written it. Can it be that God is trying to reveal to us the power that comes from hope? Look at the two other attributes that come along with hope. Perseverance and character. Perseverance is the determination to continue on regardless of what we are facing. Character is the pose in which we do it. Both driven along by this powerful word called hope.

So if hope is one of the important essential qualities of being a believer, how do we receive it into our lives? Is hope a mental game in which we try to trick or convince our minds into thinking that something will one day take place? Who is the supplier of this hope? I think you know where this is going… Romans 15:13, “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.” (NIV) This verse is so powerful in so many ways.

First, notice He is not a God who has hope but is the God OF hope. He is the very source of our hope. It’s not that He shares some of the hope He has with us, it’s so much stronger than that. By His very nature He supplies our hope through Himself in an overflowing abundance. God has an infinite supply of hope.

Secondly, I could comprehend it better if this verse said, “May the God of hope fill you with hope.” But it doesn’t. Strangely the verse doesn’t say God directly gives us hope, it says, “may He fill you with joy and peace,” and through these thing working together you get hope. In other words, the hope we receive has two powerful companions: Joy and Peace, and they work hand in hand to supply us with hope. My old math teacher would have written like this. Joy + Peace = Overflow of Hope.

Lastly, how is this hope given to us and what is the source? This is where this verse gets more interesting. It tells us, “As we trust in him… by the Power of the Holy Spirit.” The only way for believers to receive the life sustaining hope we receive from God is if we put our total trust in Him. And only through that trust do we receive joy, peace and all the hope God has for us. The key word that generates all of God’s promises is in the word “trust.”

But what happens if you have been so pounded by the hardships of life that trust is hard to come by? Have you ever been through times where you feel so hopeless that you wonder if this whole thing called Christianity was true? Sadly I’ve been there. The devil at times had twisted my thoughts that I wondered if any of this was real and not just some tale passed down through time. He had me hopeless. So, does this mean we are dismissed and left out of this great promise of hope until we can muster up enough trust in God? Does God leave us to ourselves until we mentally psych ourselves into believing him? Never… The most important factor regarding this verse in Romans is this… Everything is performed “through the power of the Holy Spirit.” This supernatural power that God has put inside all of us not only gives us the Hope we need to persevere, but the trust in God we need to obtain it. I have many times asked God to not only give me the strength I need to overcome some trouble, but the faith I need to believe I can overcome it. John said, “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask ANYTHING according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NIV).

Did you ever think of asking Him to give you the power to believe? I sure have.

If you think hopelessness is something we shouldn’t take serious, consider this. According to Suicide Awareness and Prevention, over 1 million people take their lives worldwide each year. On average, one person dies every 40 seconds each day somewhere in the world by suicide. Imagine in the time it may have taken you to read this article 10 poor, hopeless souls have gone into eternity away from the presence of God forever. I have no statistics to back this up but I can almost guarantee a large portion of these tragic deaths were caused by people who lost all hope.

1 Peter gives us this command as believers that really convicts me and makes me realize how I have failed in this area of my life. Writing this article, especially the last paragraph, has made me understand why.

“But in your heart revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to EVERYONE who asks you to give the reason for the Hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

Just Something to Consider.