What Does Hope Through Hard Times Really Mean?
Let’s begin with the word hope to start. What does hope really mean? Our culture today uses this word loosely. I confess that I do as well. “I hope you feel better.” “I hope you have a great weekend”. “I hope to get a new car someday”. Hope used in these contexts are wishes for something better. It’s spoken in a half-hearted expectation. I do honestly hope people get better that are sick. But I don’t stake my entire life and beliefs on it.
However, the hope of the Bible is a far deeper and greater expectation. We can have hope in the Lord for our salvation. We can hope in our eternal dwelling with God in heaven. We can hope that Jesus’ resurrection and second coming will allow for our own resurrection some day.
Faith, together with hope, cements the truths that we read about in the Bible. “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Faith is living out our belief in Jesus. It is helping our hope come to light. The more we have faith in Jesus, the more we can see Him working in and around us, the more we can hope in His promises.
Hope spurs on more hope. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13. God is the creator of hope. He offers us hope to hold onto in a dark world, so that it keeps us moving forward to fulfill His kingdom purposes. In this, He also fills us with joy and peace. By holding on to these beautiful gifts, they spur on more hope by the Spirit’s working in us. Again, our faith grows when we see the Spirit working in us, so the cycle continues.
The more we understand God’s story and mysteries that He has revealed to us in Scripture, the more our hope is transformed from the surfaced earthly hope, to a secure, eternal, foundational hope. When hard times hit, which they do, we can cling to our eternal hope to anchor us through the storms of life.
We are called as Christians to have a heavenly perspective instead of an earthly one. Our focus shouldn’t be on the betterment of ourselves for earthly gain. Our focus should become more and more on what the Lord desires of us. To have a relationship with Him, to give thanks and glory to Him for all that He’s given us, and to proclaim His good news to a lost and dying world. When we live in these commands and we look towards the hope of an amazing, eternal future that He’s prepared for us, we can weather the trials that come at us.
Job lost every earthly pleasure. Anything that he could take delight in was gone. Even though he had his wife, she was too filled with grief herself to give comfort to him. He was left with nothing but God Himself. Though we get a clear indication of what Job’s suffering heart looked like, we can see that his goal and aim was still the Lord. He wanted the Lord to take Him from his misery, but it’s because he knew God was better than this world. Yet, he sat patiently in his afflictions until God revealed what He was doing. He reminded Job that his attention should be on the Lord. His hope and faith should be anchored in Him. The powerful, almighty Creator and Controller of everything.
The Thessalonian church understood this as well. “You yourselves became imitators of us (the apostles) and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6
The Thessalonian people knew that they would endure great persecution if they chose to believe in the message of Jesus. Why would anyone want to choose something that they knew would result in great pain? They didn’t just accept it. They did it with joy! How? From the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit from Romans 15 that gives us hope. They had hope in Jesus and His coming again.
“You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:9b-10. They knew that the temporary persecution from man was better than facing the wrath of God at the end. They wanted to be in God’s family and take part in the great riches that awaited them.
Their faith and hope were so strong that word of it spread far. “For the word of the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out…” 1 Thessalonians 1:8
The message of God spread wide because of what the Thessalonian church endured. They lived their lives dedicated to Jesus. They shared the gospel in the face of opposition. They mirrored the lives of the apostles and Jesus because they wanted it so badly.
Parts of our world live in fairly safe countries. We don’t deal with a lot of persecution for our faith. For the most part, we still have a very open door to talk about it and freely live it out. Though there are many of our brothers and sisters around the world who don’t get that privilege. They are living in conditions like the Thessalonian church did.
Though the western culture isn’t currently facing a lot of persecution, our trials come from many other things. Illness, broken families, financial crises, etc. can all make us weary. We may have more of Job’s experience.
How are you handling life’s trials? Are you finding yourself lost in discouragement or even despair over your situation? Are you dreading each day because of the illness or situation that you’re living in? Look up. Look to Jesus, the carrier of your burdens. Give it all over to Him each and every morning. Then hold onto His Hope. It is greater than anything in this world. On the days you can’t or don’t want to get out of bed and face another day, know that He’s got you. He’s going to carry you through it.
There is always purpose and development in pain. There is a greater reward that awaits you, more so than anything you could ever possibly imagine in this world. There’s life and freedom unending. Joy, peace, and love that we cannot fathom.
Your pain and sorrow are real. They are not to be underestimated. But know, dear brothers and sisters, that we are not supposed to focus on the weight of our situation. We are to look to Jesus to get us through. Ask Him how much He loves you. Ask Him what you’re worth to Him. He’ll show you. He’ll reveal in His word the immense love He has for you.
God Himself gave up His life for you. He conquered death for your sake. He got off His royal throne, sacrificed His perfect life and image for you. Good thing He’s God and was able to repair Himself. He was able to raise Himself up, so that we too can be raised with Him. Your fight is not just your own and it’s not over. The greatest things are yet to come for you. Greater life, healing, power, and provision await. Stay strong and focused in Him.
Hope Through Hard Times.