This year on the True Woman blog, you’re going to be hearing a lot about hope. It’s our theme for 2019: True Hope in Christ.
It seems fitting for this new year, doesn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but all around, I see reasons not to hope:
- Relational conflicts.
- Struggles with mental and emotional health.
- Battles with sin and temptation.
- Feelings of loneliness.
- Fears for the future.
- A loved one declining from dementia.
- Friends that are struggling in ministry.
- Loved ones that have walked away from the Lord.
- The opioid and foster care crises and homelessness in my community.
- Friends that are struggling with their sexuality or gender.
- Racial tensions in my nation and city.
- Political turmoil.
I don’t say these things to receive concern or pity but just to say this is a broken world, and I’m feeling it.
Are you there, too? Perhaps you can sympathize with the psalmist.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. . . . My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” . . . I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Ps. 42:1, 3, 9).
Is this your story, too? Do you look around and see nothing but oppression? Do you feel nothing but longing? Are you losing sleep over the brokenness around you? Do you think God has forgotten you? Is the new year looking like it’s just going to be more of the same pain?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, friend, there is True Hope in Jesus for you today. Your list of worries may look like mine (or be even longer), but God’s mercy list is endless still and constantly refreshing itself (Lam. 3:22–23). Let me tell you a few items on His list.
Reasons for True Hope
1. Hope is a choice.
If you believe in and belong to Jesus Christ, His grace and Holy Spirit are yours for the taking. You don’t have to despair. He has given you all you need to choose hope (2 Peter 1:3–4).
Our psalmist friend did just that—speaking to his own heart about what is true:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God (Ps. 42:5–6).
And what did he tell his heart? Truth about the character of God and the future that He has promised is coming. Our next points will help us counsel ourselves in the same way.
2. God is your salvation.
We’ve already read in Psalm 42 that God is our salvation. But what does that mean?
The word here for salvation comes from one of the same root words that Jesus’ Hebrew name comes from. And as the angel told Joseph, Jesus’ name means “the Lord saves.”
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
And this Jesus, the one we worship, is that Lord—the almighty, eternal, all-sufficient God who saves us from sin. Though the psalmist did not know it fully yet, salvation was coming in the person of Jesus.
Take hope in this Truth. Jesus, God the Son, has saved and is saving you. And not just from your sins or from this earth when you die (which are also wonderful truths!), but also from the curse of sin laid upon this earth and our bodies.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.. . .And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.For in this hope we were saved (Rom. 8:20–21, 23–24, emphasis added).
We can take hope in that no matter what is causing our grief and groaning today—whether our bodies, relationship issues, or our own sin—if we believe the gospel, Jesus, our salvation, will set us free one day. The glory on the other side of His return is our hope. He will make all things new. Isn’t that amazing?
3. God has made you His own.
And if the coming redemption wasn’t enough, today, believer in Jesus, you belong to Him. You’re not just saved (if that wasn’t amazing enough), you’re loved. The psalmist could call the Lord “my God” because the Lord had chosen him. And in Christ, the Father looks at all believers and says, “You are mine” (Isa. 43:1; John 17:10), “I have chosen you” (1 Peter 2:9), and “you are my beloved child” (Eph. 5:1).
Have you ever sung that old hymn “I Am His, and He is Mine”? The last verse says this:
His forever, only His;
Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss
Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee,
Firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be,
I am His, and He is mine.
This is our hope. We can sing this song in truth, because even in the darkest hour, when everyone abandons us and we feel like misfits on this earth, we belong to God.
The Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
Let me say it again: If you are a believer in Christ for salvation, this is your sure hope. He is your Savior, you are His child, and you belong to Him both in life and death.
4. God’s love is steadfast.
Verse 8 of Psalm 42 tells us that “the LORD commands his steadfast love.” That word “command” means giving orders and ordaining. This means our sovereign Lord chooses to exercise His authority in love and toward love. He could do anything, but He graciously uses His power to show loving-kindness toward us, His children.
And not only that, His love is steadfast. This “steadfast love” is His cheçed love—His covenant-keeping, special love for His people. As we saw earlier, He has chosen you. And in His kingly authority, He has made a promise (a covenant) that His choice to love you will not end. So beloved, take hope in that truth. No matter what this new year holds, He will be faithful as your Father to carry you through to the end.
5. God will bring joy again.
We touched on this earlier—our state of trouble in the here and now is not forever. A day is coming when the Lord will make all things right, and with that, He will bring eternal, unending joy. And with that in mind, we can choose to sing in the night (Ps. 42:8), knowing that He will help us praise Him again (v. 5).
Yes, by God’s grace, we do get little tastes of joy on this earth—in the laugh of a child, in a delicious meal, in the feeling of belonging to people who love you, in the beauty of a meteor shower. But those glimpses are only an infinitesimal drop in the bucket. The joy we’re looking forward to is “inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8) and unending, and by God’s grace, we get to experience it a bit in the here and now.
So today, as you choose hope based on these truths, look around for and choose joy. Even if that joy feels half-hearted and transient as you look at your list of troubles, take heart and believe: Someday, your heart will be overwhelmed and complete in the fully-realized joy of your great King.