Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, (Psalm 146:5, NKJV)
Where do you set your hope for your happiness and blessedness? We are tempted to set our hopes on plans for the future – a career, a home, a family. These are good things, but, as James said, we must say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (Jas. 4:15). God is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). Our hope is not misplaced when our hearts depend upon the Lord God. The spiritual fortune He gives, the blessed help He provides, sustains us in days of gladness and in days of gloom. There is an abiding favor given to all those whose hope is in the Lord God. Be sure your hope is anchored in the Lord and not on the shifting sands of this temporal, fleeting world.
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (1 Peter 3:13–15, NKJV)
Peter does not say Christians will be free from harm when we follow what is good. On the contrary, suffering for the sake of righteousness will happen. God blesses the Christian who endures such troubles and threats (cf. Matt. 5:10-12). Just as God assured Isaiah that He was his “sanctuary” (holy abode and sure protection) in the face of opposition, so the Lord is for us (v. 14; Isa. 8:12-14). As you “sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart” (NASB), you will be equipped with the necessary faith to be prepared to give an answer for your hope in Christ. So that, even when you suffer for what is good, you will not grow weary. If Christ is not Lord of your life, then you will not long endure suffering for the sake of what is right. Instead of faltering when defamed for being a Christian, let us say with Paul, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground… 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” (Psalm 147:5–6, 10–11, NKJV)
God’s power and wisdom is unbounded. He does not act as we humans. What He values and exalts is very different from the estimations given by men. He raises up and magnifies the humble of heart, while He crushes wickedness under the strength of His mighty hand. Unlike men, who put confidence in the strength of their military might and prowess, our Lord delights in those who reverence Him and trust His mercy as their salvation in time of trouble. Let us never doubt the robust power and unlimited understanding of the Lord God to provide for and protect those who humbly serve Him and faithfully trust His mercy.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2–4, NKJV)
The ability to endure the trials and pressures of life with joy and not be frustrated (or even become despondent) is a clear mark of spiritual maturity. When you are “having a bad day,” do not let it overwhelm you. Refocus your attention on the joy of being a child of God. Make a deliberate decision to be patient in the moment of trial. Choose hope over despair, and a growing, maturing faith instead of discouraging doubt. Meet the trials that challenge your faith with unyielding endurance. Allow your hope to anchor your soul in the hour of trial. Patience will work in you to complete your faith and embolden your joy.
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12, NKJV)
Hope is not doubtful, halting and uncertain. The Christian’s hope rests upon evidence-based faith (Heb. 11:1). While we hope in things unseen, our hope vitalizes our joyful expectation of glory while reinforcing perseverance in the face of present distresses (tribulation). Prayer, our great means of immediate communication with our Father, emboldens our faith day by day. Notice the triplet employed here: In hope, let us rejoice; in tribulation, let us be patient; and in prayer, let us be steadfastly devoted. Our living hope does not remove us from distress; it focuses our sight on heavenly shores of victory and the eternal relief awaiting the faithful. Rejoice. Be patient. Keep praying.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. 115 Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God! (Psalm 119:114–115, NKJV)
The psalmist trusted in God to preserve and protect him. God’s word sustained and fortified his confident hope in the Lord’s care: “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I have hoped in Your ordinances” (Psa. 119:43). The evildoers would find no place of penetration and plunder of this man’s heart and life, because he kept God’s commands. John the apostle said that God’s commands are not burdensome (1 Jno. 5:3). Indeed, by walking in God’s commands we have solid hope. God’s unfailing word assures the faithful of His refuge and protection against the enemies of righteousness. Be faithful to keep God’s commands, and set your hope fully upon God’s word. He will not fail you.
17 For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. (Psalm 38:17–18, NKJV)
The sweet psalmist was broken in body and spirit because of his sins (Psa. 38:3, 9-10). His sorrow was deep as he contemplated the damage sin had done. His family was estranged; his enemies were emboldened. Worst of all, God’s wrath was upon him. With a repentant heart he confesses his sins and the anguish they have caused. God alone was his source of hope and relief. You see, sin is viewed far too lightly by far too many. It ravages the soul, destroying lives now and eternally. Yet, in God there is hope. We must take sin seriously. If you are struggling with sin, turn back to God with a heart full of sorrow and repentance. He is your salvation. “Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psa. 38:21-22)
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, 19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:18–19, NKJV)
God’s careful, caring eye is constantly on those who fear Him and put their hope in His mercy. He does not forsake the faithful, who “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). He is our life source, both in times of abundance and in times of need. Even more than providing for our physical life, God is our only hope for mercy and spiritual life in the wasteland of sin. Trespasses are forgiven and souls are refreshed with living water by His Son, Jesus Christ (Jno. 7:37-38). If you are struggling with the pain and desolation of sin, then put your faith in Jesus and your hope in God. Come to Christ by faith, and “take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). The Lord watches over all who fear Him and hope in His mercy. In Christ, we are “heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-29).
28 The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29 The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. (Proverbs 10:28–29, NKJV)
The Christian’s hope brings gladness to the heart, a joy that the world cannot take away. In vivid contrast, those who choose to live in sin never truly obtain what they expect, for everything in this world will perish. Remember, sin never delivers what it promises. Walking the path of the Lord gives strength and stability to life. Those who build their lives on the sands of iniquity never find true joy and peace; only a facade that vanishes into eternal destruction. Lay up treasures in heaven, not on the earth.
18 …that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:18–20, NKJV)
Although anxiety can weigh down the heart to the point of despair, hope in Christ secures the soul. God’s promise and God’s oath are the two unchangeable things that give us strong encouragement as we live by faith (Heb. 6:13, 17). God made a promise of eternal blessings to Abraham and his seed. God keeps His word. God swore by Himself in order to confirm the certainty of His promise. God does not lie. Therefore, our hope (desire and expectation) of eternal life is sure and steadfast. Through Christ we have access to the Presence of Almighty God. He has gone into heaven before us, serving as our High Priest and obtaining for us God’s mercy and grace (Heb. 7-8). Patiently endure the present trials; your hope is secure in Jesus (Heb. 6:15).