Hope Comes Through Hardship
I like the word hope. We all need hope in life to get through.
Someone has pointed out that a person can live 40 days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air, and about one second without hope.
Yet having hope doesn’t mean that we never feel pain. Nor does it mean that we walk around with a permanent smile or that we’re unable to feel what other people feel. Hope and pain can coexist.
So then, what does it mean to have hope? Is it simply hoping in hope?
Where Hope Is Found
No. My hope is God. I look to him. And in one of my favorite verses, here’s what God says to us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
Contextually, God gave these words to the Israelites when they were living as captives in Babylon. Because of their penchant for idolatry, God had banished them to the land of idolatry, Babylon, for 70 long years.
They were no longer worshiping (see Psalm 137:1–2 NKJV). There were no praise services taking place, because they felt that God had forgotten about them and abandoned them. It was against this backdrop that God was saying, “Listen to me. Your days are not over. I have a future for you.”
And God is saying the same to us.
I love the fact that God said, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you.” It would have been enough if God had said, “I know the single thought I had toward you for a fleeting moment.” Wouldn’t you be happy to know that God Almighty, the creator of the universe, had a single thought about you? I would.
But that isn’t what God said. He used the word thoughts, plural. He also used the word think, present tense. The Bible says of God, “Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (Psalm 40:5 NKJV).
Let’s also notice that the thoughts God thinks toward us are “thoughts of peace and not of evil.” His thoughts are good. And “a future” could be translated “an expected end.” In other words, there will be an outcome. There will be completion in our lives. God will tie up the loose ends.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m a work in progress. I like to draw, and people sometimes ask me to draw something for them. So, I’ll pick up a pen and paper and start to work. I might even smile a little after I’ve drawn a couple of lines, because I’m envisioning how it will turn out.
In the same way, God is working on the canvas of our lives. We may only see a little glimpse of what He’s doing, but in God’s mind, the art is done. It’s already finished.
Though it is still a work in progress from our perspective, God knows exactly what He’s doing. For the child of God, there is an expected end, and it is good.
When Life Gets Hard
But what about when everything in life doesn’t make sense? What about when we get sick and pray to be healed, and we are not? What about when someone dies? Where is the good then? Where is the expected end?
It is called Heaven. It won’t always be rosy on earth. We’ll have good moments, of course. We’ll have times when things come together and make sense. But then there will be times when things don’t make sense at all.
Ultimately, the future for every Christian is being in the presence of God in Heaven. And God is the one in whom we place our trust.
In the Psalms we read, “For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God” and “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope” (38:15; 130:5 NKJV).
I don’t know why, but some of us think we’re going to get a pass on suffering and we’ll somehow make it through life unscathed. And when a tragedy or illness or loss comes our way, we’re shocked.
The apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NLT). It happens to everyone.
Jesus said, “. . . In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).
God loves you and me. Don’t rush over that, and don’t misunderstand it. Whatever He does or allows to happen in your life as His child is motivated by His everlasting love for you.
Jeremiah tells us, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you'” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV).
When Lazarus got sick, Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3 NKJV). They didn’t base their appeal on their love for God. Rather, they based it on God’s love for them.
Jesus weeps with us in our time of pain. Jesus walked this earth as God in human form and felt our pain and sorrow.
Of course, we would think the best place to find hope is in a trouble-free life. However, the Bible says something different. It tells us that as Christians, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:3–5 NLT).
Hope will come through hardship. When a Christian suffers and still glorifies God, it reassures the rest of us there never will be a valley so deep that God will not bring us through it.
Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie
Originally published at WND.com
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