Sunday, October 12, 2014

Therefore I Have Hope

The Lord has been speaking to me lately about how incredibly often I hope and trust in the wrong things. We all do, really. We trust in our paychecks, our job security, our relationships, our own abilities and skills, and our own efforts to find favor with others and to get them to like us and approve of us. And I place my hope in the wrong things too, so much of the time. There's a difference, I think, between hoping for something and hoping in something. It is fine to hope for a better job, a spouse, or children, or to hope for seeing your name on the pass list when bar exam results are posted. The problem comes when we start placing our hope and confidence IN those things, believing that everything will be okay if we can only have them, and that the world will come crashing down if we can't. If we start believing that our lives and our joy hinge on a certain thing happening, then it's a good bet that we're hoping not just for that thing but in that thing, instead of hoping in the Lord.

I place too much trust in having some savings in a bank account and having my ducks in a row. I place too much trust in my own plans for my life and not enough in God's better plans. But the hope we have in the Lord is the hope of "even if." Even if the worst happens, even if our nightmare comes true, even if our loved one dies, even if the layoffs at our company leave us without a job, even if we get bad news about our health . . . even if, even then, we can still have hope in the mercies of the Lord.

The writer of Lamentations stood in the middle of a ruined city when he wrote these words: "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion. Therefore I will wait for Him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him."

There is so much solid gold in this passage, but first, one thing I've noticed just recently about it is that these verses make it so abundantly clear that we have total control over 1) what we call to our minds, and 2) what we say to ourselves. That may sound simple, but think of how often we believe we don't really have control over these things! We think we can't really control what is on our mind or the worry that might be plaguing us or what we convince ourselves is true. But we can. Calling something to mind implies an active effort, a conscious decision to think on these things. I will call to mind the unfailing love of the Lord. When fear of the future assaults my soul, I will call to mind all of the faithfulness of the Lord over my lifetime (blog post just about this, coming soon). I will call to mind that Jesus Christ is enough, and He's always been enough, and He will always be enough. I will call to mind the simple truth that everything I cannot do or be, He can and is. And I will say to myself and speak over my soul only truth, that the Lord is my portion. He is what I've been given, and that's all I need, and He is my delightful inheritance. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't control what you say to yourself and bring to your mind, or that you have to let the winds of anxiety and popular opinion and negativity and dread and despair steer your soul. It's not true. Choose another anchor for your soul.

And this passage also tells me that we cannot be consumed or destroyed, ever, no matter what, because of the love of the Lord. Even if we stand in the middle of a ruined city, literally or hypothetically. This is the sort of passage that, in our modern times and modern equivalents, I imagine coming out of the mouths of survivors standing in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped, or from refugees fleeing Syria after their homes have been destroyed and their families have been killed. Even then, all is not lost. We cannot lose everything. Because his mercies never fail. They are not yesterday's mercies, because they are new every morning. We don't have to try to "store up" the mercies of God out of fear that we're not getting fresh ones tomorrow, because we are. His mercy is never leftover or old or stale or something we've experienced before--it is brand-new. The Lord has enough new mercies for all the days of all the lives of every person on this planet. Celebrate the way the Lord showed you mercy yesterday, but understand all the while that you need to keep your eyes open for the way He's going to show you profound compassion today. Don't miss out because you're refusing to pay attention or are too consumed with the future or the past.

Lean in to the Lord this week, and place all of your hope and confidence in Him alone.

And finally, I just really want to encourage all of you to check out Hillsongs' Glorious Ruins album if you haven't done so already. I listened to it a few times last year but it just wasn't really speaking to me at that point in my life, but in the last two weeks I've been listening to it again, and it has been such a deep encouragement, especially this song called You Never Fail. These truths have just been washing over me in a really fresh way, and I think you all should listen to the album if you haven't yet!

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