One of the most amazing things about nature that I find inspiring is the ability of a dwindling, dying, dried-out plant to bounce right back into a flourishing bloom after receiving watering, nurturing, and a little bit of pruning.
It reminds me just how much of life exists in a seed. Even in the driest of seasons or the deadliest of moments, with the right conditions life can spring again and the process of producing fruit will follow.
My most recent venture has been resuscitating a youth fellowship ministry in my church. Due to Covid, our face-to-face meetings could not be kept and young people were not interested in joining online. We have subsequently restarted our face-to-face meetings and the group seems to be growing.
One of the most surprising things so far has been just how unchurched these young people are. They do not know the children's songs I grew up on, the concept of prayer seems novel and many of them are not able to find or know the books of the Bible. They remind me every week just how much the church of God takes for granted as it relates to the role and function of evangelism in our communities.
For a young woman, committed to youth ministry with much love for young people, this situation can seem hopeless. It can make you wonder if your expectation to see transformation in the lives of these young people is possible or just a dream.
What is hope?
The dictionary defines hope as 'a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.' If hope is a feeling of expectation and a wanting to see particular things happen in our lives, then what makes the hope of a Christian different from that of unbelievers?
Anyone can be expectant, many people desire wealth, they hope for a better life, and they hope to win the lottery to build a better life. They want to become famous and make millions. Moreover, many of us Christians are hopeful of these same secular and material things, and why not? Each of us desires to live the best life we can while we are on this earth.
So what makes our hopes differ from the hopes of unbelievers?
My summation is that the hope of the people of God, my hope, comes from God.
"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will not be shaken." (Psalm chapter 62, verses 5 & 6)
Our expectations and desires come from God above and we acknowledge this fact in our living. As Christians, we attribute our existence to God, and our very being, desires, and expectations we surrender unto Him. When we hope, it is not in carnal things but in the faith and belief that God who created the world has in store good plans that He will fulfill in our lives. Even Paul expressed that if our hope was only in this world, we would be men most miserable.
Additionally, the biblical hope does not just end at our expectations and desires, but it is further expressed in our confidence that what we have hoped for will come to pass.
In fact, it is tailored to God's plan for us, so our works or involvements, our labouring is not in vain but in line with our hope in God.
"That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe." (1 Timothy chapter 4, verse 10)
A living hope
I have in my life experienced many hopeless moments. Moments of dryness, faced with burdensome tasks that I envisioned would not amount to much. What has kept me is knowing that as long as Christ is alive and on His throne I have a living hope.
What is even more encouraging is that God is eternal! My hope, our hope is in Him. We are assured that his plan - for giving us a future and completing his good work in us - shall be fulfilled.
So, don't be discouraged in fact, if you are reading this and you are depressed and even despondent, put your hope in God! David in Psalm chapter 42, verse 5 experienced this same feeling of depression and encouraged himself to hope in God. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God."
May God continue to fill us with hope, His living hope, as we trust him, so that we may overflow with peace and the power of the Holy Spirit.