I never would have imagined that this is what my life in February 2021 would have been. I am a young, engaged Kiwi, sitting in the middle of a snow-covered Ohio, unsure as to whether I will be able to get married in May, or when I will be able to hug my mother again.
In many ways, life looks far less than rosy right now, and I found myself saying to my sister that I had run out of hope.
Blessed if we hope
Giving up on hope feels almost sinful. It feels as though we have lost sight of the magnitude of who God is and are dishonouring the sacrifice that He made so that we could live under His care. Paul tells us that the encouragement and endurance taught in the Bible is to provide us with hope (Romans chapter 15, verse 4).
Scripture also tells us that, "But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him." (Jeremiah chapter 17, verse 7).
That is a pretty lofty promise for something that sometimes feels impossible to do. I want God to always delight in me. I want Abba to have a smile in His eye when He thinks of me. So, if it pleases Him to bless me if I trust Him, I want to trust Him.
There are times though, that I waiver in my confidence. When life seems too heavy and I keep striking out swinging at curveballs, I do not doubt the existence of my Saviour, but I do stumble in my sureness of His goodness. These times come when I feel rather unblessed, but God promises that I will be blessed if I put my hope in him. But, how?
How to hope
The beauty of being a child of God is that He is the answer. Growing up going to Christian school it was a running joke that, “the answer is God.” Maths too hard? The answer is God. Got called on when you weren’t listening? The answer is God. The joke was on us though, because the answer is always: God.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans chapter 15, verse 13).
When we are lacking in strength, God provides. When we are lacking in hope, God provides. What a perfect Father, that when we are struggling to trust Him, He gives us the trust that we need. Once He equips us with the strength and hope that we need, we then have the energy to walk out our practical faith steps.
A story told in Facing the Giants (Kendrick, 2006) movie tells of two men who asked God for rain for the farms. Only one went and ploughed his fields. The question was, who demonstrated more faith? Once God has given us hope, we must exercise faith.
Living in a hopeless situation
Older sisters are a gift from God, they really are. When I told my sister that I had no more hope, that the tank was empty, she reminded me that ALL I needed was faith the size of a mustard seed (Matthew chapter 17, verse 20). Even the slightest ounce of hope and faith is all I needed to see God move powerfully in my bleak situation.
She then outdid herself further by reminding me of Jeremiah’s instruction:
“This is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles who were carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters.
Take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Seek the prosperity of the city to which I have sent you as exiles. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for if it prospers, you too will prosper.”” (Jeremiah chapter 29, verses 4-7).
These instructions came at a time when the people of Israel had no hope, but God told them to keep ploughing their fields and as they kept exercising their faith, they needed to keep interceding for the world around them.
It is so easy to forget in a time of trial that there is a whole world out there, outside of our troubles. A world that needs our care and prayers. While we are out, preparing our fields while we faithfully wait for rain, we need to remember to pray for the fields around ours.
Blessed in hope
Sometimes hope looks like a messy phone call home to sob that you are at the end of your rope, because you are wanting someone to pull you up out of that ditch. Sometimes it looks like printing your ‘save the dates’ when you are afraid that you will have to print ‘change the dates’.
Blessing sometimes comes in the form of plane tickets, and other times in the words of a wise older sister who reminds you how to hope.
Whatever mountain you are currently facing, I hope that you can face it with even the tiniest mustard seed.
Petro is a currently completing her masters degree in Sport Leadership at the University of Miami (Oxford, Ohio). Originating from South Africa and growing up in New Zealand has given Petro a love for all things sport and travel. Writing is Petro’s way of making sense of the world around her and expressing the words God places on her heart.