Keeping Hope Alive

by Bob Jones

Keeping Hope AliveJohn languished in a filthy prison for over 18 months. He had expected this. Prophets who rebuke sinful kings usually do not fare well. What he hadn’t expected was to be tormented by such oppressive doubts and fears. John the Baptist had never doubted that Jesus was the Messiah. But stuck alone in this cell, he was assaulted by horrible, accusing thoughts.

He tried to recall all the prophecies and signs that had seemed so clear to him before. But it was difficult to think straight. Comfort just wouldn’t stick to his soul. Doubts buzzed around his brain like the flies around his face. The events he witnessed that had been so compelling had lost their effect.

Can you relate? Have you been through a time when you felt overwhelmed? When your questions of God had no answers? When circumstances were not working out? When dreams became a nightmare?

You can survive for 40 days without food, about three days without water, and about eight minutes without air.

But you don’t want to go a single second without this one thing.

Without this one thing, even the smallest tasks, let alone life-and-death issues, are impossible to face.

Without this one thing, couples give up on their marriage, parents give up on their teens, leaders give up on their people, and people give up on their future.

That one thing is HOPE.

Hope is not turning a blind eye to reality or merely wishful thinking.
Hope is not pretending problems don’t exist.
Hope is the belief that problems won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed.

You are hardwired for hope.

Every decision you make, every response you have to situations and relationships in your life is motivated by hope.

Your story is a hope story.

Your happiest moments are hope moments.

Your saddest moments are about hope dashed.

You’re always looking for hope.

You’re always attaching the hope of your heart to something.

With hope anything is possible.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops at all. ~ Emily Dickinson

We live in a beautiful, tragic, complicated world. Emotional, intellectual, and spiritual turbulence are a part of life. Confusion creates uncertainty and doubt.

Over coffee, I’ve listened to many people say, “I struggle with my faith. It’s funny because I believe very powerfully in God and all that He can do and yet I have so many doubts.” Doubt doesn’t have to be a hope killer.

Doubts or unbelief are not the opposite of faith. The opposite of faith is not doubt; it’s when you have it all figured out. What if your questions or doubts are not evidence of a lack of faith but are evidence of God’s prompting in your life? God challenging your outlook?

Challenge your outlook and change your life.

The longer I’ve lived, and the more I’ve sought to know and understand God, the more I’m confident that doubts are essential to spiritual maturity.

The hurtful response to doubting and questioning is to keep people in a bubble—or simply to dismiss their questions and advise them to “pray harder,” “read the Bible,” or “just believe.” The helpful response is to confront your doubts.

Be honest with the fact you have doubts. People who don’t have doubts are dangerous. Those who don’t know how to question can be encouraged to develop critical thinking. Be merciful to the doubtful.

Doubt confronted will make faith stronger. The struggle you’re in today is building the faith you’ll need for tomorrow. Let your doubts lead you to worship.

Faith is not 100 per cent certainty. Faith is not finite answers to infinite questions. If you were completely certain of everything, you wouldn’t need faith. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.

Intellectual and spiritual growth will lead you not to overconfidence in your ability to figure God out, but to your knees in worshipping the God of all hope who is beyond figuring out.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13, ESV).

ShareAre you facing the effects of cancer, sexual abuse, mental illness, or loss? For many people, those experiences can be like a prison, if not a death sentence. But they don’t have to be. The eleven women in You’re Going To Be OK show there is hope to get through the most heartrending trauma. Words matter. Keep your hope tank filled with ongoing stories of hope. Bob and Jocelyn Jones dispense them every week. Subscribe to hope at REVwords.com. Photo © istockphoto.com.

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