Job 17:15 “Where then is my hope?
Who can see any hope for me?”
Hope is as necessary as food, and almost as necessary as air. There are countless examples of people who were in extreme circumstances but made it through on the strength of hope, while others in much less severe circumstances perished. Many people today echo Job’s cry here, wanting to know where their hope is, who can find hope for them. When life is easy the presence or absence of a deep hope is not so apparent. It’s when push comes to shove that the difference becomes obvious. That’s perhaps the major reason times of persecution are generally times of growth for the Church, because the attitude and actions of someone with an eternal hope can be striking indeed. America is entering a period of legal justification for persecution of faith. However, it is precisely those people who are willing to sacrifice their job in order to remain true to their God who have the kind of hope that the rest of the world lacks. The ancient Romans said of the Christians, “They really know how to love each other and how to die.” They knew “how to die” because they had hope that physical death wasn’t the end, and that their eternal reward would be so great as to make them forget whatever suffering they might experience on the way. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Up to this point Christian faith has been the “easy road” in America, with general admiration and few if any negatives. That is changing, and fast. The epithets hurled at those who refuse to budge from Biblical principles are downright amazing at times. This could well be God’s mercy, because this will clean out those who have not acknowledged and repented of their own sins and submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord. As Peter said, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God.” (1 Peter 4:17) The result will be “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27)
I had not thought of my own hope as being so striking, but recently a psychology professor who teaches with me has been talking about how he enjoys meeting me each week because I am always so upbeat. I’ve known him now for over 30 years, so he knows it’s not just a fluke! Apparently he finds my hope very attractive, so as Peter said, I need to explain my hope in simple, respectful, attractive terms. (1 Peter 3:15) My wife has similar opportunities. People are greatly impressed and attracted to her because of her cheerful, hopeful outlook despite numerous and hardly insignificant health challenges. We need God’s wisdom to draw in the nets that He has built through our lives over the years, so that the many, many people we have impacted would be drawn to clear-cut repentance and faith, for their salvation and the glory of God.
Father, Wednesday night You had me pray very boldly about a multiplication of the people in this church, and I believe You’re starting to show me how that is going to happen. We still can’t do it in our own wisdom and strength, but You can use us, so that is our prayer. This church alone hardly makes a dent in Your plans for this city and this nation, but we aren’t left out. I pray for all the believers to take hold of the hope they have in Christ and live it out, so that many would be drawn into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!