Thursday after Ash Wednesday
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)
My First Option or Last Resort?
She came into my office with good intentions. Tears were running down her cheeks. The first things she said was: “Pastor, I have tried everything. Nothing has worked. I am out of options. So I am coming to see you.”
I am glad she came to see me, but I was disheartened. She had such little confidence in my ability to help that she came to see me last. This has not been a one-time occurrence. Many people will only go to the pastor when all else has failed. We pride ourselves in our ability to help ourselves. We give it our best shot with God as our fall-back option.
We have got it backwards when we see God as our last resort rather than our #1 option. The order in which we turn to God says much about our hope in God. When we are sick, we go to the doctor. When we are struggling to make ends meet, we look for a job. When our marriage is struggling, we go to the counselor. We often look to human solutions first and then turn to God when the human solutions don’t work. God often uses human solutions to help us, but what if we started looking to him first?
Hope vs Hopefulness
There is a difference between possessing hope and being hopeful. Possessing hope is to be sure and confident. It’s more than wishful thinking. The language you use when you talk about God’s provision says a lot about your hope. Consider the following responses. Which is the most confident?
- I hope God will provide for me.
- I know God will provide for me.
- God provides for me.
The first statement is hopeful. It is filled with wishful thinking and is clouded with fear and doubt. The first statement is not going to do much for you.
The second statement is more confident. It looks to the future in faith, but there is still a hint of doubt. You can very easily add a “but” at the end of that statement which will change the whole character of that second statement.
The third statement is certain. God has provided for me in the past, he is providing for me know, and he has the future taken care of. God provides. It’s done. There is no need to worry.
Try another one. Consider these statements.
- I hope God will heal me.
- I know God will heal me.
- God is healer.
Which is hopeful? Which is certain? It is #3. Even though there may be an incurable disease raging in my body, I can still possess hope knowing that in Christ, every day I live I am one day closer to my ultimate healing. God is healing me. When I possess hope, I can speak of my future as a present reality. Hope makes real what is not yet.
My Only Option
One of my favorite hymns is “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.” Here are the lyrics of the first verse.
My hope is built on nothing less. Than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
My hope is built on nothing! That is nothing other than the blood of Jesus and his righteousness.
In the end, God is not just our first option. He is our only option. There is nothing less or else that can save us from death. It’s not my works. It’s not my money. It’s not my religion. One day all the things I know on this earth will fail me. But it doesn’t matter because I got Jesus. He is my hope!
- Do you turn to God first or last?
- Where are you lacking hope? Write out a statement of hope and confidence. Put that statement in a place you will regularly see it.
- What does hope mean to you?