The Distinction Between In and For – Part 2
- Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Christian cannot live without hope any more than the Christian can live without faith, or without love. I do not mean just the single or relationships alone. The Christian life bleeds hope. Every facet of the Christian life involves a hope for what is not yet, for what should or could be. It is here, in this wide river of grace that singles come to dip their feet. We hope for a relationship because we are people of hope. We hope in a God who longs to bless us. We hope for the things we desire.
The realist will remind us of the failures, of the setbacks, of the letdowns. Thank you, realist, but I live for more. I live not for that which is but for that which could be. There is a danger in shaping our present, our future, and our past according to our desire for a husband or wife. It is a grave mistake to bend all our energies toward this singular goal—we dare not. The pessimist among us will view our present life as empty, our future as bleak, and our past as a series of mistakes that have wrecked our chances of relationship. This leads to hopelessness that has no place in the life of a Christian. Christians hope!
This year has not been so awful at its start. But our minds are able to conjure next December and feel the cold and lonely days we now know. In this way, even at its start, this year will strain our resolve. Some might say, “It is just easier to accept than to hope.” I ask, “Accept what?” I accept without reserve TODAY!!! I see no hope that I will be married today. I see no hope that I will be married tomorrow or for that matter in a month. But I neither see the whole year, nor do I see next year. To accept what has not yet come to pass strikes me as hopelessness if not faithlessness.
Instead we are to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have—hope (Romans 15:4). Paul even refers to our Father in heaven as “the God of hope” through whom we can be filled “with all joy and peace as [we] trust in him…[and] overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13).
Oh, yes! I know the Gospel is not so narrow. I speak not of relationships in particular, but hope in general. There is a reason. We are not singles longing for relationships. We are Christians longing for more. Being single is simply one facet of a greater longing. We hope for relationships because we are not home yet. We do not have all that we want and the longing for a relationship is simply a part of a greater longing. So, while I encourage singles to hope for what they desire, my encouragement is to Christians—HOPE!
We hope for things, but NEVER place our hope in things. We never place our hope in husband or wife, job, home, children, country, or life itself. That is the critical difference. We hope for these things as our desires are good, but we never place hope in them. We hope only in God.
So we should hope, but HOW should we hope? Patiently!
Hope is not demand. Hope is desire, longing, expressed through faith—tempered by faith. Hope is faithful expectation, and yes, this carries the possibility of disappointment. I have lived a life of faith long enough to know that God loves the difficult and relishes the impossible. If by faith it is possible that I will be married (and it is) and if as the Word teaches God is good (and He is)—then there is hope.
If we are honest, we must confess that if we surrender hope it is not because there is no hope but because we are scared. (I wanted to write “we are cowards,” but I seek to be gentle.) We fear having to take back words of hope we spoke with such zeal yesterday. We fear having to explain how so hopeful a relationship failed. We fear having yet another New Year remind us of what did not materialize in the year past. And so we reason it is better not to hope at all. If we make the choice to give up hope, let us simply admit that we do so out of fear, out of self-preservation, because it is safer than nurturing a hope that may rot before it bears fruit.
I want to be gentle. It is not easy to nurture a failing hope. I understand this. I do. And I realize that a faltering hope grows denser and more cumbersome with each passing year. It lingers in dark corners hoping for a brighter tomorrow. We are hesitant to show it lest someone think us odd. We are hesitant to be thought a fool for daring to hope when all things press us to give up. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
The voices whisper, “After so long have you not buried that foolish dream?” “No! I have not! Why have you?”
What I have done is fed my beleaguered hope the Bread of Life and made my wasted hope to drink from Living Water. Though I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I was brought to green pastures. I was led beside still waters and made to drink while He stood guard. He has restored my soul and hope has revived! See how it perfumes the very air we breath! See how the paths of righteousness stretch before me—and all for His name’s sake. It is all for His name’s sake. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
What the streamers could not convey at the start of the New Year was that the Christian hope is not tied to the economy, not tied to military might, not tied to the twists and turns of sinful people but anchored in “our living hope” Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Winter is still upon us and, in some places, the thaw is nowhere in sight. But we are convinced it is wise to place “our hope in the living God” (1 Timothy 4:10). What He will bring in this year we embrace, whether it is ALL that we want, less than we ask or “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). My hope in HIM is for the latter.
“If you can find no reason to hope, be still and let hope find you.”
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion.
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