The Hope Your Life Depends On
I dedicated my life to the Lord a very long time ago when I was a little girl. It was in a service at church and I felt the clear tug of the Holy Spirit to accept God’s salvation and adoption. It was a very emotional moment for me, even at 5 years old.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s though that I actually began to grow in Him and walk as His student. I was at a place in my life where I realized that I really wasn’t going to get life figured out apart from knowing Him through His Word and prayer and joining with other believers. I knew that there was more to my walk than what I was experiencing. God had to be my Father and Friend, not just my ticket out of hell.
One of the major things that God has used in growing me has been the idea of hope. He is the God of hope. He invented hope and He invites us to hope in every hopeless situation. I’ve grown to love hope. In fact, God’s hope has radically changed my life again and again.
About twenty years ago I was in a very hopeless situation and living in daily fear about the future. Me and my family had made a move from one state to another and it seemed like it wasn’t the greatest decision. We had moved “hoping” for a better life, and “hoping” to find real community with others, but instead it was awkward and hard and honestly, somewhat demoralizing, for too many reasons to go into here.
After about six months, I was miserable and all I wanted to do was to go back “home to where we came from.” Even as we tried to retreat, every single door shut. The more I realized that we weren’t going back, I began to become very depressed.
Why couldn’t I get life figured out? After all, I wasn’t a bad person. I thought myself to be a very nice, moral person. I didn’t drink, smoke, cuss or listen to rock and roll. (Yes, that was my standard at that time, as clueless as it was.) And besides, I worked hard at my job, hard at my marriage and took good care of my children. Yet here I found myself again: without hope and afraid about the future.
One Saturday, early in the morning, I was lying in bed overwhelmed with hopelessness. My life had never seemed more dark. The Lord spoke very plainly to me that morning about a decision I needed to make about Him. Would I put my hope in Him or others? Would I accept that I needed Him more than I needed people, or a different job, or a different city?
Hoping in a job or a place is risky enough, but hoping in the comfort of others is incredibly unwise on our part. It’s not fair to them and it’s not how God designed us. We are meant to be in relationship with others but no one can be our source of hope but God. He just won’t allow it if we’re serious about our relationship with Him.
Rolling over on my side, my Bible was laying on the night stand next to the bed. Doing the only thing I knew to do at that point, I picked my Bible up, began fanning the pages and quietly prayed, “God, please speak to me,” and then I dropped my right index finger on the page. There, in black and white, were words of hope; words that in that very moment of desperation began to reshape my life to become who I am now:
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity [fear], but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
I knew that I was being given a clear opportunity to hope again in God by immersing myself in the Truth of His Word. I realized that God wasn’t mad at me for moving from one place to another in search of connection. And He hadn’t abandoned me because I was being slow to learn. In fact, just the opposite was true. He loved me. He was trying to help me understand that He was a God of hope, not fear, and He had a great plan for my future but I wouldn’t walk in that reality until I took hold of that truth for myself.
I made a decision that day to take God very seriously and I began to read and memorize Scripture as a regular discipline. I began to filter every challenge, every struggle, every disappointment, every “mountain” through His Word in an attempt to discover the truth about the fears I faced in my life.
I’ll never forget that that was the season in my life when I began to hold God’s Word so closely to my heart that I would pray it continually and in every situation. For the first time in my life, I understood that the power of God’s Word, when applied faithfully in my life, had the ability to transform my world from being filled with despair to being filled with hope for the future, no matter what I’m facing.
Even as a pastor, married to a pastor who is the most joy-filled human I’ve ever met in my whole life, I still wake up afraid from time to time about the future during the night (because the enemy will never completely give up on trying to derail us), but I’ve learned over the years to immediately begin praying Scripture. And every single time, a heavenly hope fills my soul once again. Psalms 119:114 says it so perfectly:
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”
If you’re like me and you sometimes struggle with feeling like you could use a good dose of God’s hope, then learn to pray Scripture, my friend — and pray it like your life depends on it, because the reality is, it does.
Sarah co-pastors with her husband John an amazing little church named Faith Center of Paducah. She and John are a blended family of seven (three married children) and have two grandchildren, Addison and Jack, who hung the moon. Besides Jesus, John and all her crazy kids and church family, Sarah loves to write and teach and encourage others to hope again. If you’d like to contact her directly, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Awaken and Equip
Faith Center exists to awaken people to a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ and membership in the church family and equip them to fulfill their God-given purpose of maturity in Christ, ministry in the church body and missional living in the world.