Day 32 of Lent, Psalm 38:
The unusual ice and cold temperatures left me a little discouraged this winter; not because I don’t like the cold, but I like my plants, and they were not fairing well. It did not look hopeful, for many of them looked, rather… dead. Also, after making an investment: spending money, planting, taking care of them and watching them grow, it was disappointing. The greater the investment, the greater is the disappointment. If you don’t have a yard, my discouragement, may seem foreign to you. How about this– last summer after writing a paper for a class I some how deleted it. I imagine you can relate to that discouragement! It seemed like a waste of time and energy to have to start all over. I felt hopeless recovering the ideas I had written or recovering the time that was lost.
In each of those situations, I could give myself a little pep talk. I could encourage myself by saying, “It is ok. It will turn out.” On the other hand, I could say, “Those things do not really matter in the grand scheme of things. Why bother?” Or, I could rant and rave, about how unfair life is. I needed some hope, but what would that look like?
I am learning some things about hope. It is not something I do or work up, but is a thing I believe. Often it is difficult to conjure up hope quickly, and be, well, hopeful. I rather feel like sulking, worrying, or even glossing over it, as if it the disappointment doesn’t matter. But really it does matter to me.
In Psalm 38, there are significant trials and setbacks. David is so distressed that he feels forsaken even by God.
My heart throbs, my strength fails me; and the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague.
Have you been there? Are you there right now? Yet, he says this:
For I hope in You, Lord; You will, answer, O Lord my God.
Somehow, some way, he still has a hope.
I think David knows God so intimately that he has full confidence in Him, for God can be completely trusted with anything. I think hope for David is more like a noun– it is something sure, something you possess and something real. We often have “a hope,” or “hopes,” like dreams. Often those things are tangible things that may or may not turn out– good weather, good health, a job, or a family, among many things. David has hope, because He knows God and He knows God to be faithful, loving, trustworthy etc. This is one of many reasons why I love to look at and reflect on the qualities of God– His attributes and characteristics. As I look at them, take hold of them to be true by faith, it sturdies me and builds a strong foundation. When times of discouragement, disappointment, or tragedy hit, I possess something great. Then I have a great hope. God is my hope.
There are times we (and our hope) are tested severely. How do we continue to possess hope?
- Know God and His true character. What has He revealed about Himself? What is Jesus like? Jesus shows us the character of God. This is also, why it is good to know His attributes and remember them.
- Life tests the depth of things. The hard things form our character and make us a more real, authentic person. It deepens our character. We see life differently, and what really matters is fine-tuned. Life is not the same- but now it is to be lived fully– for significant things. Can we take hold of this?
- Hope is something in the future. There is something better, brighter coming. Hope is a story that needs to be finished. Do you believe that?
- Hope points to an eternal destiny. Jesus came to give us life today, tomorrow and forever. There is more. The good things here are small tangible foretastes of the goodness to enjoy forever with Him. Love and goodness are a taste of heaven.
The paper was rewritten. After I settled down, I put things in perspective, and as a result, I knew my topic better. Some of the plants are starting to pop up. That is encouraging. Some have still not shown any signs of life and I don’t know that they will ever grow again. That is how life is. Sometimes there are lessons to learn, and sometimes we get to see even beautiful things bloom.
However, many times we don’t “see” anything. Nevertheless, hope is still there. The story is still in process. Hope can still abide and look to the future for the completed story. God is the only true giver of hope. His hope is true, tangible, and better than anything I can imagine. Hope is a noun.