By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
Hope. Just the sound of that word makes me want to rejoice! It’s the balming agent to every weary soul. It’s what brings healing to the one holding a wounded heart, inspiration to the dreamer, confidence to the insecure, and perseverance to the one barely hanging on. Just saying the word, hope, is like honey to our lips.
Hope gives us a glimpse into the future, changes our perspective, is crucial for our faith, and connects us more deeply to God. Hope is our lifeline. And our world is desperate for it! From the exhausted mom running on fumes to the brave fighter awaiting the day to ring “the bell” declaring they are cancer free.
Hope reminds us that this life (and the brokenness found within it) is merely temporary. Hope rejoices in the Truth and gives us the fortunate opportunity of knowing we have an eternal and ever-lasting life waiting for us outside of this one. Hope tells us to hold on because better days are coming when all is restored and found in perfect unity. Hope is our safe refuge, our shelter, and our pathway to peace.
So now that we know how hope makes us “feel,” what does the Bible have to say about the word? A lot, actually. One of my favorite verses comes from Isaiah.
But those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 comes with such a beautiful promise. When we have hope in the Lord, He will renew our strength. We can be certain that when we take matters into our own hands, we will fail. But, when we wait on the Lord, seeking His will, way, and timing, we are given a supernatural strength to carry us through any circumstance. Just how comforting is that!
So, dear friend, no matter what seasons you find yourself in this year, let’s discover four ways you can carry hope into the new year.
1. Hope Looks into the Future
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
This verse has been a go-to for many, and one we often see on plagues in the craft stores or plastered on t-shirts like it’s become some sort of catchphrase or cute cliché. But make no mistake, this is a truly powerful verse, packed with a precious promise.
The verse was a declaration of God’s purpose and plans for the people in Israel. Despite their disobedience, worshiping false gods, and not seeking repentance, God delivered a rather tough message, one that was most likely difficult to hear. They would remain in exile for 70 more years (Jeremiah 29:10). Talk about long-suffering!
Yet, even though the Israelites dismissed God’s timing, will, and way, God remained faithful and promised redemption and restoration. Eventually, that led to the fulfillment of prophecy in God sending the Messiah.
So, what does this mean for us? God’s way is the only way to a hopeful future. If we want to carry hope into this new year, we must trust God’s plan for our lives. Hold your plans loosely, be ready for some bumps, and surrender control by saying “yes” to what God has in store for you this year. You might be surprised!
How will you seek hope for the future this year?
2. Hope Changes Our Perspective
Most of Peter’s writings were meant for Christians living in persecution or exile. He proclaims to the churches in the area outside Israel (now part of Turkey) that when we commit our lives to Christ, we are called to live differently. We may feel like outsiders and not fit in. We may feel misunderstood or encounter backlash for our faith and beliefs, but we are to remain steadfast and remember our eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).
It’s not hard to see that our world is drastically changing. Every day more devastating news tries to sabotage the innocent, divide people groups, and build upon false narratives. This is all deliberately done by the deceiver to attack and target our Christian beliefs.
Peter reminds us to shift our perspective and find hope by praising God for His great mercy. Praise Him for our salvation, which gives us hope!
How will you shift your perspective and seek hope this year?
3. Hope Is Crucial for Our Faith
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Our God is the God of hope! If we want to truly experience the hope our God offers, we must trust in His plan and believe with our whole hearts the richness of His love for us. But, sometimes, it’s not so easy to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
When my husband and I were in a young married life class (all those years ago), the teacher said something that struck a chord in me. This is what was shared: “Sometimes when it comes to faith, we have to – fake it ‘til you make it.”
At first, I didn’t like the sound of that. But as I have gotten older, I have learned that we need to seek God the most, especially in seasons of this life when God feels distant. We absolutely must continue to dig into His Word, pray, and meet with Jesus, despite how we feel.
That’s why I love the verse above. When we feel stuck, empty, or in a place where faith (and hope) seems lost, we can continually seek God and ask Him to remind us of His Truth. So, if we find our feelings going off the deep end, or we are merely going through the motions, we must remember that God is faithful, good, and still with us.
How can you walk by faith this year and find hope?
4. Hope Connects Us Deeply to God
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114
It’s so easy to start off with a goal to read our Bible, pray more often, and memorize verses, then, in a matter of days (or minutes), fall right to the ways of our flesh. The distractions are many, and the lure of worldly things is enticing, even for the most faithful of believers. Before we know it, our Bibles are collecting dust, and our prayer life is, well… not so great, maybe even becoming nonexistent.
There are many ways we can take a detour, preventing us from developing a deeper relationship with our God. However, we mustn’t let those deviations stop us from getting back up and trying again. God is continually pursuing us and calling us to come back to Him. The question is: Are we listening and pursuing Him?
With the start of a new year, strive to develop a Bible study plan that will help you tune into His wisdom and Word. There are many books, devotionals, and plans available to help you grow in the Word. Seek Him earnestly in prayer and ask where you can serve Him better.
How can you connect more deeply to God and let Him fill you with hope this year?
Photo courtesy: ©Taylor Wright/Unsplash
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.