I just want to go back.
I can’t tell you how many times this thought has crossed my mind lately. I want to go back three months ago and alter the course of the future. I want to go back to the me I used to be before grief pummeled my heart and hopes and dreams collapsed. I want to go back to the precious memories of lost relationships. I want to go back to a pre-pandemic world. I just want to go back.
The past year has been difficult for me. Fears, disappointments, family worries, broken relationships, dashed dreams, and health problems have compounded to drain me in more ways than one . . . and led me to ask a hard question: Where do I put my hope?
Where’s Your Hope?
Is your hope in an easy life?
Is your hope in your health?
Is your hope in a relationship?
Is your hope in your career, school, future plans?
We all place our hope in these things to some degree, but I didn’t realize how much I did until recently. For so long, I’ve put my hope in all the wrong things.
There’s nothing wrong with hoping for future dreams or working toward future plans. But often, we take these gifts and raise them up as little idols in our hearts. We place our hope in them and look to external things to satisfy us.
Once I’m dating . . . engaged . . . married . . . I’ll be happy.
Once I graduate, I’ll be happy.
Once I get this or accomplish that, my life will finally be good.
We pin our expectations upon an end result, postponing our joy and satisfaction until it comes to pass. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that the reality of met goals and dreams often doesn’t match up to the vision I had. After they’re achieved, I’m still left grasping for something else to set my sights on. If I keep pinning my hope upon an uncertain future, I’ll continue to be disappointed. This cycle doesn’t work.
We need a greater hope.
John Stonestreet says, “Any hope placed in a change of circumstance isn’t biblical hope. Biblical hope rests squarely on the fact that the biblical Story of the world, from creation to new creation, is our true Story, secured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
That is our greater hope—Jesus Christ.
What Habakkuk Teaches Us About Hope
A few weeks ago, God brought the book of Habakkuk to mind. Within this small book we see desperation, destruction, despair, and a nation struggling under their enemy.
The opening words are ones my own heart has uttered, “Oh LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2)
More questions of why follow as the prophet struggles to understand the suffering of Israel. But it’s the last few verses that stand out the most powerfully. After questioning and wrestling, Habakkuk comes to his conclusion: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 emphasis mine)
Yet I will.
The description Habakkuk paints is one of desolation, poverty, and desperate need. It speaks of a lack of even basic necessities. Yet, he says “I will rejoice. I will joy in the Lord.”
How? How can he say this when the vision around him is so hopeless?
He can say it because he had a greater hope.
Instead of looking to the circumstances around him, he looks to the Lord, who is his strength and who will make him walk on “high hills.” There are various interpretations of what “high hills” really means, but implied in each is sense of confidence that God will make our way sure as we trust in Him. Habakkuk shows us we can walk in safety and confidence in God, no matter what our lives hold. And not only that, we can walk in praise and rejoicing.
Habakkuk teaches that it’s all right to ask why and struggle with fear and disappointments. It’s normal to wrestle with our shattered hopes and unfulfilled dreams. But it then guides us to surrender the wrestling, listen to the words of the Lord, and settle on praise, confident that God, who knows what tomorrow holds, also holds us in the palm of His hand.
Look to Jesus
Are you struggling today, friend?
Are you weary, fear-filled, or anxious? Are you disappointed, broken-hearted, and hurting?
Look to Jesus. He is still faithful. Though all around you may be crumbling in chaos, He is still strong. Though everything may look hopeless at this moment, He is still your greater hope. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
The world doesn’t have that confidence. Without Jesus, the only thing to cling to is the expectation of better times ahead. But with Jesus, we have the confidence of knowing that no matter what lies ahead, He will be with us—in the worst days . . . and the best days. He has good things in store and the best thing is His constant presence.
I love Psalm 147:11, “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”God's mercy is enough for today and He will carry you. I can’t promise tomorrow will be better, but I can promise He will meet our tomorrows with a new supply of mercy sufficient for whatever the day holds. Click To Tweet
Hope in His mercy, my friend. His mercy has never—and will never—fail. Over the past months, I’ve tested this truth as I’ve walked through what has felt like fire and I can tell you, He’s never failed me, never left me, never once been unfaithful. It’s hurt deeply and honestly, I’m still hurting. His mercy doesn’t always deliver us from the pain, but it does sustain us through it.
His mercy is enough for today and He will carry you. I can’t promise tomorrow will be better, but I can promise He will meet our tomorrows with a new supply of mercy sufficient for whatever the day holds.
Look to A Future Hope
Life is hard, there’s no doubt about it. But this life is not the sum of our existence. If we believe in Jesus and have accepted Christ, we have a future hope. This life is a temporary journey to our eternal destination.
I love how Paul says in Philippians that “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Paul wrote these words while in prison. In them, we see him focusing on the purpose of his life even in the midst of his current trials, and clinging to the hope of his future with Christ. As I say in my book, Love Riot, “To live is an opportunity: Christ is the opportunity. To die is gain: Christ is the gain. So whether we live or die, we revolve around Christ. He is the meaning of life.”This life is not the sum of our existence. If we believe in Jesus and have accepted Christ, we have a future hope. This life is a temporary journey to our eternal destination. Click To Tweet
Christ is the hope of our lives. He is also the hope of our future new life in Heaven. As we revolve around Christ, placing all our hope in Him, we find both the meaning of this life and the expectation of a “new Heaven and a new earth.” (Revelation 21:1) As Billy Graham said, “My hope does not rest in the affairs of this world. It rests in Christ who is coming again.”
Behold, “‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” (Revelation 21:4, 5)
While life has been hard, yet I will praise the God who makes all things new. For His words are indeed true and faithful.
I’d love to hear from you!
-What struggles have you faced this year?
-What have you often placed your hope in?
-Can you relate to my desire to “go back”?