There are some who say that Christian believing brings certainty, and that if we just trust hard enough we will have wealth, prosperity and safety. But we have only to look at history to see that some of the people who suffer most from tragedy are often those who know what it is to draw near to Christ.
Our journey of faith can take us further into uncertainty. But it is there that we often experience hope at its most profound.
Christian hope is founded in our knowledge that God meets with us in a ever-changing world. He is not limited by our sin or the brokenness of this world. He will have victory–and we can put our hope in this.
In order to resist discouragement, we must rely on the constant hope that God will be with us in our struggles, frustrations and challenges. I encourage you to reach out and embrace this hope, knowing that Jesus will always be our ever-present friend no matter what life has in store for us.
A faithful God
Bible verse: And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Joel 2:32 NIV
Thought: The Book of Judges displays a repeating cycle:
- Israel sins
- God hands them over to their enemies
- Israel cries out for help
- God raises up a judge to lead the people to victory
- God delivers Israel from their enemies
- A time of peace, before the cycle begins again
In Judges 4, we arrive at the beginning of one of these cycles. Israel has fallen into sin, and God hands them over to Jabin, the king of Canaan, and the evil commander of his army, Sisera.
Israel is oppressed and they cry out to God. Despite Israel’s past sins, they–and we–can have hope in God’s faithfulness. They know that he will hear their cries.
And he does. God raises up a new leader for them, Deborah, who will show them the way to restoration and forgiveness.
God is always faithful to his people, even when we are in the depths of sin. You can come to him with confidence, knowing he is always ready to forgive.
Prayer: God, I know that I often fall far short of best intentions. Thank you for always being there for me, even when I am not faithful to you. I am so glad I can always have a strong hope in your goodness through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God is in control
Bible verse: The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes. Deuteronomy 1:30 NIV
Thought: When all seems lost, when all feels hopeless, God sometimes reveals something new and unexpected that brings fresh hope.
When Israel was lost in sin and oppressed by evil men, God raised up not a male leader as expected, but a strong woman – Deborah. And it is difficult to find another leader in the Old Testament with such wisdom, passion and determination.
Deborah is trusted by her people to resolve their disputes, and when the time comes to overthrow their enemies, it is under her leadership that Israel has victory.
If things seem hopeless in your life, remember that God is always at work behind the scenes. He may be preparing something new and unexpected for you right now.
Prayer: Lord, when I am feeling lost and hopeless, help me to hope in your plans and purposes. Help me to remember that you always have an answer! We ask this through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Strength in weakness
Bible verse: But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV
Thought: There are times when each of us feels weak and inadequate. But in those times, God wants us to trust in his strength, not our own.
In the book of Judges, we discover that Barak, a military leader appointed by Deborah refused to go into a difficult place of conflict unless she went with him.
Deborah saw Barak’s less-than-confident attitude, yet she willingly went into the difficult situation beside him, trusting that God would achieve his purposes despite Barak’s weakness.
When Jesus faced the horror of the cross, he may have appeared weak and powerless too. But it was when he appeared at his most weak place that God brought about a powerful conclusion in victory over sin and death through him.
If you feel weak, if you are worried you’re not strong enough for God, don’t give up! Put your trust in the God who is stronger than anything and find your strength and hope in him.
Prayer: Lord, when I feel weak, help me to trust in your continuing strength that can overcome all obstacles. Give to me day by day a reminder of your ongoing offer of hope through Jesus Christ. Amen.
A good outcome under God
Bible verse: For the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deuteronomy 20:4 NKJV
Thought: After God raises up unlikely heroes in Deborah and Jael, Israel is seen to be strengthened over her enemies, and peace reigns in the land for forty years.
But it’s important to note how the Bible describes this: ‘On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites.’ (Judges 4:23).
While God may have worked through Deborah and Jael, ultimately, he was the one who brought about a better purpose.
Deborah was a respected leader, and she could have claimed the victory for herself, but she sings a beautiful song instead, giving all the glory to God:
“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I, even I, will sing to the Lord;
I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.” (Judges 5:3)
Like Deborah, may we also be people who exercise hope in the power of God and recognise that it is God who brings us through.
Prayer: My God, you are so powerful! Thank you for giving me a good outcome over my enemies–especially over sin and death. I know that I can do little without you, but with Jesus Christ I can do all things. In his name I express my thanks. Amen.
Bible verse: 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. Romans 15:13 NIV
Thought: How can we strengthen our hope in God, so that we always remember that he is in control?
As C.S. Lewis says, a Christian’s hope isn’t an escape or wishful thinking, but something that a Christian is meant to do. Hope helps us to rely on God in hard times, and to trust him even when he seems far away from us.
We have a hope in eternal life, which means that we can attack today with a renewed vigour and strength.
After God brings victory for Israel, Deborah and Barak sing a song that takes up the entirety of Judges chapter 5. They sing of God’s faithfulness, and they joyfully celebrate his goodness to them.
When we see God come through, when He answers our prayers or proves his faithfulness–celebrate! Take time to thank God and acknowledge his power and love.
Rejoice in the Lord and remember his goodness the next time you are struggling to find hope.
Prayer: My Lord, thank you for all the many times when you have been faithful to me. Help me to celebrate you and your goodness, and to store up these times in my heart to strengthen my hope in you. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev Keith V Garner, AM shared how hope will shake the foundations of this world.
Three Wesley Mission employees, Rev David Van Akker, Chaplain, Wesley Disability Services, Mrs Lucy Burdett Wesley Connect Coordinator and Rob Seaton, Operation Manger, Wesley Specialist Homelessness Services were interviewed by Rev Keith V Garner, AM and shared what hope personally means to them.