Breathing in Hope
Waiting. C'mon, nobody likes to wait. Don't leave me hanging here. In the fast-paced, microwave, fast food, immediate gratification culture that we've been saturated in, the challenge is intensified. That's one of the most challenging things when it comes to prayer and trusting God. He ALWAYS answers us, and He ALWAYS keeps His promises. He just doesn't always do things WHEN I think He should. Often times I think it's midnight, and He's like, "Relax, it's only 9:45." And He doesn't always answer our prayers or keep His promises in the WAY we think He should. He is free to surprise us and He often does. That is why it is even more crucial that we get to know Him. So that we can trust Him, even when we have to wait, even when His answers don't come exactly how we think they should. Experiences like this drive a person either away from Him or deeper into Him.
We can trust Him because He is able; there is nothing our God cannot do. And we can trust Him because He is good. He has most clearly shown His goodness towards us when He left heaven to come after us; lived perfect for us because we needed His perfection in our place; suffered and died for us to take the wrath of God for all our sin and to provide our greatest need (forgiveness); and rose for us to give us the hope of victory over sin, death, hell, and the devil!
Hope. Hope is a powerful thing. I heard a story once about a test on rats. The scientists put the rats in a tub of water to test their endurance. The first batch were scooped out of the water when they were in danger of drowning and their time was recorded. The second batch were pulled out a few minutes before the time reached by the first group. The scientists allowed the rats to rest then put them back in the water only to scoop them out for a rest, once again a few minutes before they reached the endurance time set by first test group. After a few rescues, the scientists let the rats go until they were about to drown. They rescued them and recorded their time. What the scientists discovered was that the second batch of rats’ endurance increased dramatically. (Don't quote me on this, but their times may have been something like 10-times the first batch.) The point is HOPE. The second batch had been trained to hope. Their endurance skyrocketed because they had hope that someone was going to reach down into that tub and rescue them. So they kept going and going.
I need hope like I need air to breathe. I am hoping that there will be a day when Katie can smile again. I am hoping that there will be a day when Katie can walk again, swim again, play soccer again, hug me again. This, however, is an uncertain hope. I am confident that, as David penned, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; however, I can't dictate to God when or how. I believe that I will see His goodness in so many different ways. And I already have, even today.
However, my greatest hope is a certain hope. It's not wishful thinking; it's a confident expectation because of an explicit promise. Paul writes about it in his letter to Titus. He said to him, and to us, that God's grace has appeared to all men, and that the unconditional love given to undeserving people by an unobligated giver is what motivates, moves, and empowers us to live lives of growing obedience and grace "WHILE WE WAIT FOR THE BLESSED HOPE, the glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The hope that I have in Christ's return is a game changer. Why am I hoping in this? Because Christ will come again to restore all things, to make all things new, and to take those who belong to Him to be with Him forever. No more sin, sadness, sickness, suffering, death, crying, root canals, paralyzed 12-year-old daughters, worries, or fears. Only perfect joy, satisfaction, and peace in the new world forever!
Christy and I are broken and bent, just like you. We can’t stand waiting, just like you. We have a tendency, because of sin, to lose hope and to lose focus, just like you. That’s exactly why we need to preach the gospel and its implications to ourselves every day, just like you. We have this hope, not because we are good, not because we perform well, and not because we can endure suffering. We have it because we are broken and busted up. We need hope in grace. And so do you.