Just before our country went into lockdown, I made a frame to hang on our wall that says what we’re about as a homestead. One of the words I put on there was ‘hope’. I started thinking about why I chose to put it on there. I just felt like it should be on there because I want our homestead to be characterised by hope. I want who we are and what we do to bring hope to others. I felt like that was something that God wanted us to be about. But what exactly does that mean? What is hope? And why is important? I’ve been mulling over the theme of hope for a few weeks now, so I hope I can do hope justice.
When we hope, that can mean a few different things:
- Hope in eternal life
- Hope in God’s ways (or our own)
- Hope in our dreams and passions
These are all inter-linked, but worth exploring further.
Hope in Eternal Life
We can hope in eternal life because of what Jesus did for us. If we are Christians, followers of Jesus, that means we’ve chosen to believe that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life as a man, died on the cross to save us from our sins, rose again and is now seated at the right hand of God – a position of authority from which he can say, “Your sins are forgiven because I’ve already paid for them.” The price of our sins is death. Jesus has already paid. That means we can accept from him a ticket to heaven when we die. The door to God’s house will be opened to us and God will say, “Welcome home! Come in, my friend.”
This is a living hope: a hope that we live in as a Christian, a knowing, an assurance of where we’re going when we die.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you – 1 Peter 1:3-4
…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6:18-20
But being a Christian isn’t just about booking a room in heaven. Jesus didn’t come to conquer sin and death just so we could be plucked out of it one day after doing whatever we want to do on this earth.
Hope in God’s Ways
Choosing to hope in God’s ways means to hope that God will do what he says he will do – that he will lead us, protect us, love us, provide for us and give us the power to do whatever he wants us to do. Living in this kind of hope is a daily choice to trust in the promises and character of God.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. – Psalm 62:5
It is about hoping in God’s word.
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. – Psalm 119:74
The Bible teaches us that hope in God involves rejoicing and praise.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12
Have you tried hoping without an attitude of praising and rejoicing? If our praise of God dwindles, our hope starts to give way to fear or to the mundane.
Hope in God also involves patience. This goes back to the thing of God’s spreadsheet. If we could see all of God’s spreadsheet for us, God’s plan, not only would we want to change it and take control of it, but we wouldn’t have anything to hope for in this life. We hope for what we can’t see.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:24-25
How do we get hope? How do we grow it?
- We rejoice and praise God through all things, even the hard times. He is still God in the midst of suffering, he still loves us, he is still at work, he still yearns for relationship with us, he still has beautiful things for us to experience, he still deserves the glory for being who he is. Praising God grows hope.
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
But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. – Psalm 71:14
- We read God’s Word, the Bible.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4
- We ask God for hope. The Holy Spirit has the power to cause us to abound in hope. Not just have a little bit of hope, but to abound in it – to be full of hope, overflowing with hope, having enough hope. So if you’re feeling a bit empty on hope, pull into God’s forecourt and ask him to fill up your tank with hope.
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
- We surround ourselves with people who encourage our hope in God.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 15:5-6
We can choose to put hope in other things in this world, our own things, whether it be people we care about or think highly of, a job, a lifestyle, things that we own, sports or hobbies, but if we are hoping in these things without God’s input, expecting them to bring us meaning and fulfillment in and of themselves, what sort of hope is that? It is chasing the wind.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:1-2
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. – 1 Timothy 6:17
Hope in Our Dreams and Passions
The third aspect of hope that we’re going to touch on is hope in the dreams and passions that God has put in our hearts. As I mulled over and prayed about these aspects, I watched a devotional video by Jess from Roots and Refuge Farm. She beautifully describes how it is ok to hope and dream for the desires of our hearts. I believe that everyone has hopes and dreams in the areas that they are passionate about. And God created these passions and skills within us for us to use for his glory. As I listened to Jess it dawned on me that I had shoved some hopes and dreams aside as slightly silly things that might happen one day, but maybe not, and certainly not anytime soon and wasn’t it just selfish for me to dream about those things? The thing is, those aren’t just the deires of my heart. God put them there. He stirs them. When I actually talked to God about it, I found that those dreams weren’t just my dreams, they were God’s dreams that he was already at work in. Scriptures that he had been planting in front of my face suddenly made sense as I realised that God’s plans for me were about my hopes. That blows my mind.
We do have to be wise about what the desires of our hearts are. If our desire is for wealth, prestige or some sinful gain, God knows and he will be the judge of that. God says he will grant us the desires of our hearts if we delight ourselves in him.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:3-4
Although it seems impossible right now, my hope is to have a bigger property, a bigger homestead, where we can have more animals, we can grow more crops and I can have enough space to grow native plants to sell too. I dream of a red barn, which is not just a barn, but the thing that everything centers around: a place in which I can create things and grow things and, just as importantly, a place in which I can teach others the skills and knowledge that I have learnt about all kinds of homesteading things and about God. I don’t really care so much what the house looks like, as long as I get the red barn. I can see it so clearly sometimes and I have to fight myself not to repress that hope. It has been in my mind for some years but I’m only just starting to see it unfold into a bigger picture. After launching into writing these devotionals and realising that I couldn’t do this homesteading, blogging, lifestyle, business thing without it being wrapped up in God, the picture became almost tangible.
Why should I get to work from home? Why should I get to spend copious amounts of time homesteading? Why should I get a nice piece of land in the country? Why should I get so many good things that I’m half-scared to hope for? Because I love God and he loves me and he knows, he knew, long before I did, that I will use those things to bring him glory.
The funny thing is that sometimes we forget that we’re in a relationship with God. We forget that as we and God grow closer, we have more shared desires and passions that come to the fore. The things that stir us and excite us so strongly are the very things that can bring God glory. Whether your hope is as big as acquiring property or travelling somewhere or as simple as wanting to help or befriend people in a certain niche, have you asked God about it? Because we know God can do all things. God is big and if he wants us to do big things, then he is fully capable of enabling us to do big things. If your hope is interwoven with his hope, then together you and God can change the world. So go on, ask him about it. “Dare to dream” doesn’t have to be a fanciful saying, it can be a bold declaration to go after what God has placed in your heart.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. – 1 John 3:21-22
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
There is nothing shameful about hoping. If someone or something has stomped on your hope, guess what? There’s still hope. The beautiful thing about hope is that it can be rekindled. You just need a dose of God’s love in your heart. If we look again at Romans 5, it says:
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 5:5
I will leave you with this scripture, and if you start singing the hymn, all the better!
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:21-24
- How is your hope in God’s ways doing? Is it growing or has it rolled down the hill?
- What things could you do to grow your hope in God?
- Who can you spend time with that will encourage your hope?
- Are you daring to dream and hope for the desires of your heart or have you let someone or something stomp on them?
- Go to God and talk to him about your hopes and dreams. Ask him for what you want.
All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.