One of the most widespread traps that I find believers (including myself) falling into has to do with maintaining our hope in uncertain times. Let’s be honest. Everyone of us will encounter challenging and even, at times, seemingly impossible circumstances.
A dear friend from the area who I’ve known for 20+ years recently received a very difficult diagnosis having to do with the “C” word.
When we hear of any kind of potentially destructive or even lethal circumstance, whether it be relational, financial or in this case, physical; that is the time that we most need to be reminded of the hope that we have in Christ.
I was reminded of this very personally earlier this week as I was carefully reading through Ephesians 1. One of the most interesting parts of this incredibly inspiring epistle is that it was not written to address any specific heresy, error or difficulty in the church like so many other epistles do. No, it was specifically written to elevate the confidence of the new church that was growing in strength and numbers in the city of Ephesus, a city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey).
As a result, what you find in the first three chapters are soaring words trying to find descriptive language of the magnitude of God’s glory, greatness and grace.
In the first chapter alone, there are numerous promises that are declared, including this one in Ephesians 1:18-20:
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”
He goes on to describe that this is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, thus forever establishing a confidence that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love, mercy and power of God.
The challenge that I find to be most difficult when we are in the midst of coping with difficult circumstances is that we fail to consider just how powerful God is and … that He promises to make this power available to us who believe!
I’ve come to simplify it in this way. In the Old Testament, much of the journey of faith for the Israelites after their captivity in Egypt for hundreds of years, was to “the promised land.” This was a specific place that God promised His people that would provide abundance for their lives and the resources to meet their needs. As you may recall, because of unbelief and even rebellion, they wandered around in the dessert for 40 years after their glorious deliverance from the Pharaoh of Egypt.
We, too, can find ourselves wandering around if we do not lay hold of the promises of God which are clearly presented as available to us according to the new covenant or New Testament writings.
For the ancient Israelites it was the promised land. For those of us who are trusting Christ today … it’s not a promised land, it’s the promises! These promises are magnificent and cover virtually every area of life with an unqualified reassurance that the same power that was in Christ, that power which was “far above all rule and authority, and power and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:21) is what is available to us to face the very same struggles, difficulties and even destructive circumstances.
I find two things that help empower me when I face these things in my daily life, just as you face things as well.
First, I remind myself of these glorious promises and let my mind and heart soak in the truth of them. (There are some 6,000 promises stated in the scripture.)
The second thing is I ask a believing friend (or family member or church leader) to believe God with me for the fulfillment of these promises. Yes, we have to humble ourselves enough to acknowledge that we’re facing difficulties that are causing us pain and suffering; maybe even creating a shadow of doubt over our lives. “Where is God?” in these times, we ask. “Why did this happen to me?” and many other personal and somewhat subjectively chosen questions they may be. No, we need to get those things out of our mind and get back to declaring the promises of God over our lives. We find that our minds begin to focus on what God can do, not the mess we are in. It’s usually not very long before fear and doubt are swept up in hope and expectation which is the soil of faith that brings about the fulfillment of the promises which God has so freely given.
So wherever you are, whatever your situation, you are already in your promised land! You already have the promises of God and your first step is to begin to read His word and meditate on His promises. The second step is to simply have another friend join you so that you’re not standing alone in troubled seas.
This is the source of our hope and our hope is what fuels our faith and our faith is what moves the hand of God!