“Why are you cast down, O my soul?… Hope in God…” (Ps. 42:5, NKJV).
How do these verses tie together? All three of them teach us essential truths about hope. More than another other time we have been alive, we humans need hope right now. The beautiful news is that Jesus has abundant hope available for us. Today, let’s lean in to listen to what He has to say to us on this matter.
1) He Himself modeled hope for us. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2, NIV).
He was able to endure the torture of His death by the strength that hope gave Him. In His most agonizing moments, He had joy set before Him. This means that He was visualizing the indescribable reward coming, in the midst of unspeakable pain. Holding onto that picture is what empowered Him to stay on the cross for us until the very end.
If our Savior desperately needed hope to successfully complete His mission on earth, how much more so do we? He is our example to follow. What did He do? Set the joy. What are we to do? Set the joy. Visualize the immense reward coming. Perpetually watch it on the screen of our hearts. Fix our eyes on the goodness that is to come in Jesus. This brings me to our second point.
2) We need Holy Spirit to show us that goodness. “…Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope…” (Eph. 1:18, ESV).
We can only know what hope is ours through the ministry of Holy Spirit. If you read the whole context of this passage, you find that the previous verse is a prayer for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus. In other words, a prayer for more of Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of Wisdom. He is the Spirit of Understanding. He is the Spirit of the Knowledge of the Lord (see Isa. 11:2).
Holy Spirit is the only One who can enlighten the eyes of our hearts. He is the only One who can impart to us the picture of the goodness to come. If we are to set the joy, we need Him to show us what that joy is. I strongly encourage you to regularly pray this prayer from Ephesians over yourself and over your spiritual eyes. Daddy God, flood our hearts’ eyes with Your light! Show us what Your loving vision of our future is!
3) Hope is a gift. Hoping is a choice. “Why are you cast down, O my soul?… Hope in God…” (Ps. 42:5, NKJV).
The sons of Korah give us another example to follow in this psalm. We are to actively choose hope. So much of our relationship with God is a beautiful dance between receiving His gift, and engaging with it. Hope is no exception to this interplay.
On our own without Him, we have no real hope. We cry out to Him. Out of His sheer tender generosity, He lavishes on us this gift of hope, the enlightenment of our hearts. Then, He invites us to grow into His gift.
We grow into it by choosing to hope… even when our circumstances are difficult. In this Scripture, the psalmist shows us how. He makes reference, in both the verse preceding and the verse following, to… remembering. Actively remembering. Actively bringing to mind past experiences of the goodness and faithfulness of God. We see this modeled in Lamentations as well: “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope” (3:21, NKJV). See the connection there between actively remembering, and the stimulation of hope?
There’s something so powerful about exhorting our own souls, “Hope in God!” Yet, even in doing so, we need Holy Spirit to continually breathe His empowering and revelation into our spirits. As we choose to cling to hope, He will faithfully strengthen and enlighten us on our journey ever deeper into hopefulness.
Today, let’s dance with God. Let’s allow these complementary truths to lead the steps:
- [Our choice!] “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ (Lam. 3:21-24, NKJV).
- [His empowering!] “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13, NIV).
On your own journey with Jesus, what experience with Him has most fostered hope in your heart?