Faith, hope and love are the three spiritual dynamics given to the Church (1 Corinth. 13:13). There are voices that often speak of Love (I am one) and others that seek to strengthen our faith. Hope however seems to not get as much press.
A while back the absolute necessity of hope was once again driven home to me. In the not-too-distant past we had the privilege of spending time with some faithful servants of the Lord. There is fruit from their fulltime work of service. There is maturity in their ministry that flows from their faithful and diligent work. Good folks. But they were hurting and they were miles apart, retreating down well-worn paths into caves of pain and despair. Hope was nearly extinguished. The vine spoiling “little foxes” that Song of Songs speaks of had become ravenous wolves. When hope begins to fade the lies of the enemy increase. When hope begins to fade we begin to listen to the dark whispers. When hope begins to fade we are vulnerable to deception and may even find ourselves agreeing with the suggestions of the evil one. When hope is set aside, a heart sickness moves us toward simply giving up, or giving in (Proverbs 13:12). The kill-steal-destroy goal of the enemy was being accomplished. Divide and conquer was his scheme.
However that was not the end of the story. A spark of hope was kindled. A glimmer of light returned to eyes that were looking intently at one another. A willingness to explore awakened. Wholeness, though tentative, became the goal. A journey was begun and budding fruit is once again just beginning to appear.
What brings hope? Truth, simply the Truth. But what causes the truth to be heard? Nothing less than confession. Mushrooms grow in the dark, so do lies. That which is hidden has destructive and divisive power; that which is confessed and exposed does not. Lies seem more plausible when they fester in the unexposed regions of the soul. When our friends, out of desperation shared their pain with us, the power of the lie weakened in that very moment of confession. It was in the context of openness and honesty that Truth could be heard, could be taken in, could be believed once again. The hook was coming out and could no longer so easily jerk their thoughts into the shadowy places. We need each other.
In my own seasons of struggles there are two realities that strengthen my hope. I try to hold tightly to them. Sometimes my grip is firm, sometimes not.
The first is: I am not in this alone. The heart crushing lies of the enemy always infers aloneness, uniqueness and isolation. Psalm 139 gives great comfort and answer this lie square on. So does Hebrews 13:5b. We also have one another. The Lord expresses Himself through His followers. Others can be vessels that pour His deep truth into us as we open our heart to one another.
The second is: This is not the end of the story. I carry hope for certain family members. This is not the end of their stories. This gives me hope which adds potency to my faith. When my way ahead seems shrouded from view, this is not the end of the story. When old patterns once again emerge, this is not the end of the story. And the great part of the good news is that my story will never end. My story in time will one day have it final lines written. I hope to play them out well. But what lies ahead in the face to face relationship with Love Himself will never end. Now that is hope!