Originally published in July 2020
“None but he can bear the weight of your hope.”
I read this quote last month while on vacation in the novel Safely Home by Randy Alcorn*. I’m not normally a fiction reader, but this book came highly recommended. (By the way, this is a must-read with storylines rich in fact-based research on China and Scripture-based study of Heaven. I read the 400-page book quickly!)
Since then, I’ve been thinking about how hope is a heavy burden to bear. Often, we think of “hope” in relation to certain lighthearted emotions – excitement and joyful expectation. But hope is where the weight of our future joy is placed. Hope holds the tension of our present endurance and contentment. And hope is often built on the outcomes of our past experiences.
We have hope-filled plans and expectations, and many of us have seen those dashed this year, as the coronavirus replaced big trips and celebrations with staying home. When we’re waiting for the results of a medical test, we offer hope-filled prayers for health and healing. As the result of our hard work, we hope for a raise, recognition, or a stellar test score. In relationships, we hope for an engagement ring, a new baby or a memorable anniversary milestone.
None of these things are bad in and of themselves. Most of these are certainly matters of prayer. But if we place our hope in earthly outcomes alone, we are sure to be disappointed.
The Object of our Hope
The burden of hope lies not in the outcome itself, but in its Source. As parents, we’re able to make many fun things happen for our kids – but it’s not possible to go to Disney World every year, for example. Resources are limited.
But God’s resources are never spent, and His purposes are never to withhold from us in a spiteful manner. In His refusals and delays, God is offering us something much richer and deeper, even when we can’t understand it. His presence can fill the place of our desires. His purposes refine us in ways that would’ve never happened without a period of longing.
Consider these words from Psalm 33:16-18,20-22:
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Here, hope is linked to the Lord’s steadfast love, which in the original Hebrew is checed, translated as favour. It means goodness or kindness. And hope, in both verses above, means “to wait.” The object of our hope, the Lord, offers his goodness and kindness to us while we wait. He is not denying us, He is not offering us a stone when we ask for bread (Matthew 7). Oh, how well He loves us – and how often we forget it! We can hold tightly to that hope because of God’s character.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
The Outcome of our Hope
I’ll be honest – not every prayer I’ve uttered has been answered in the way I expected or hoped for. Devastating loss and a life-changing diagnosis were outcomes I never would’ve scripted into my life. By God’s kindness, what could’ve easily shut off the valve to my heartfelt prayers and outpouring of grief has only strengthened my resolve to trust Him more.
Were there times of doubt and darkness? Many. But as Psalm 139 says, no depths could plunge me out of God’s reach. He met me in my anguish, putting His hand on me to lead and to hold me.
While our flesh can make us doubt God’s plans or fear His answers, we can trust His goodness and cultivate priceless fruit when God is the Source of our hope. Below are just a few:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Here, faith is trust or confidence – assurance that God will do what He says He’ll do. The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 recounts those who lived “by faith” – Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, Rahab and many others.
And here’s the kicker in verse 13: These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
They all died, believing in a coming Savior by faith, but not realizing it while still living. We may not see all of our hopes realized on this Earth, but if the Object of our faith is secure, we can still live and die in faith. Our faith is evidence of what we can’t see and often what we don’t fully understand.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Hope often involves a period of waiting. If you’re anything like me, you could wait more patiently if you just knew when the answer was coming. Three weeks? Ok, I can handle that. A year? Well, not ideal, but at least I know. Never? Well, God….
But faith doesn’t work like that, and we’d never build up endurance if we never had to work that muscle. But here’s the good news – hope in God never puts us to shame. It’s never baseless or misplaced. We can have confidence because, as the verse says, God’s love has been poured into our hearts. We can trust God’s outcomes because we can trust His character.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
Peace means quietness, one, or rest – I like the sound of those words when I’m waiting expectantly, instead of unnerving impatience. The God of hope offers us His joy and peace so we can root our belief in Him and overflow with confidence.
God can certainly bear the weight of our hope. His past faithfulness proves it. His present companionship attests to it. And His future promises assure it.
Each Monday, I plan to offer you a “Monday Goodness” devotional. I pray it will encourage you to focus on God’s goodness, His Word, and truths to help you cling to Him in life’s impossible. Click on “Monday Goodness” in the archives to find past devotionals.
*Affiliate link – If you order this book via this link, I’ll receive a small stipend – at no extra cost to you.