I woke up this morning, saw a short video a friend had put on social media. It was the massive explosion happening in Beirut, Lebanon, yesterday. As the billowing smoke rises higher and higher above a sea of buildings, suddenly, a loud, smoky blast swept over the whole city in a shock wave. It looked like a disastrous scene from the movie, but only it wasn’t special effects made by a computer. It was real.
I googled the news right away, and found out in this catastrophic explosion, at least 100 people were killed and 4,000 wounded. Buildings damaged and windows blew out up to 10 kilometers away.
My heart sank at the terrible news which, in the face of much strain and unknown already caused by Covid-19, felt extra heavy and unbelievable.
I’ve been thinking about the word “hope” a lot recently. The year 2020 has shaken us to the core, challenging us with some fundamental questions:
What is hope? Where can we find it?
According to Wikipedia, hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”
You’ve already known this, to hope or have hope, one needs to have at least one unfulfilled expectation or desire, which I believe includes all of us.
How can we have an optimistic state of mind regarding our desire? How can we know for sure that the positive outcome will come and our hope will be fulfilled?
- Heirs with Christ
Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) Our hope is linked with our faith in God.
When I say I have faith in God, it means I trust God and His words. I believe the scriptures to be true.
Through receiving Christ and His redemption for me on the cross, now I can call the Creator of the universe “Abba, Father.” I’m His beloved child. I know He loves me because He sent Jesus Christ to die in my place. Before this Holy God, I’m free from sin and guilt, because they’ve been crucified along with Christ on the cross.
Romans 8:17 “And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that he is and all that he has. We will experience being co-glorified with him provided that we accept his sufferings as our own.” (TPT)
This scripture boosts my hope. Standing in God’s saving grace, we have been given the inheritance of Christ—- all that He is and all that He has. Is it possible that we will still lack anything? If we believe the scripture to be true, then Not possible.
This year marks the fourth year of our marriage and the fourth year living in Geneva, Switzerland. Although our family has grown from two to four, the four years haven’t been easy. Coming from China, intending to make a living in the world’s most expensive city is hard. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to leave Switzerland, go back to China or move to another country. We even made plans to leave. But every time, when we came to God in prayer, we felt led to stay. We felt God promised to make way for us to stay. So four years later, we are still here. Though we don’t have much money in the bank at the moment, we lacked nothing. We have everything we need. My husband has finally launched his business and been working on his first projects.
I hold onto this promise—- we inherit all that He is and all that He has. We have all the resources, knowledge, wisdom to thrive wherever God plants us. And this should give us hope.
- Character produces hope
Romans 5: 1-4, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (ESV)
One function of suffering is that it can produce a Christ-like character in us. What is a Christ-like character? It’s the ability to think God’s thoughts and act in His ways.
Suffering itself won’t necessarily make us more mature. It only reveals where we are at in character. It shows our true faith—- how much we trusted God and surrendered. However, the Holy Spirit will make us grow when we choose to honor God and persevere in suffering; thus, more Christlikeness will appear in our life.
In my 15 years’ walk with God, it was during waiting and suffering that I had grown the most and set free from the strongest bondages from my pre-Christian era. I also discovered that often, what I hoped for only came when a particular aspect of character had formed in me. In this way, when the blessing came, and my desire fulfilled, I already had what it took to hold and steward the blessing instead of making it an idol.
The truth is that no matter what we are hoping for, whether it’s the physical healing, financial breakthrough, or a relationship, even if it eventually comes, it won’t last forever. But our character, our soul, will live in eternity.
Therefore, we can have sure hope for whatever it requires to accomplish God’s will when more Christlikeness has quietly formed in us in the wilderness.
- Hope in glory out of suffering
Jesus had access to all that the Father had, regardless, he suffered, to the point of death. This world had no room for his life, just like darkness has no room for the light. However, his suffering and death bought hope and life to all humankind.
Similarly, we, as followers of Christ, are not of the system of the world. Sooner or later, we will be, at least to say, disliked, by living out our faith. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (NIV)
Have you experienced this: you’ve been seeking and following God’s lead wholeheartedly, but find yourself in an unwanted wilderness? You are not alone. I’ve been there too. Job had been there, so had King David, Daniel, and Jesus.
Yesterday, I was processing some painful emotions with God in prayers, related to being mistreated because of my faith. I was grieving. I felt a great injustice. I took some time, simply let out my deep emotions in words, groaning, and tears. I didn’t receive any answer from God immediately, but I knew it was the beginning of healing and resolving.
This morning, I read in Romans 8:17, “We will experience being co-glorified with him provided that we accept his sufferings as our own.” (TPT) My heart was lit up. I knew it was God’s words for me regarding my grieving yesterday!
Here is our hope: the suffering we encounter in our journey of following Christ won’t be in vain. They are seen and counted by God. In due time, we will experience God’s glory.
Dear reader, you may have found this season particularly hard and been tempted to fall into despair. I pray this article will reignite your faith, and give you a reason to hold on to Hope tighter.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)