Hope Against Hope: Part 2

The Anchor of Our Soul

Hope is like a golden cord connecting us to heaven. The more we cling to this cord, the more we can allow the Lord to bear the weight of our burdens and to draw us closer to Him.

Have you ever felt hopeless? Have you ever felt like you are literally walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death? Have you ever felt like you wanted to run, but there was nowhere else to go? You pray and you pray and you pray, but the Lord just doesn’t seem to answer. Instead, everything gets worse and worse.

Over the next few months, I want to write some articles about the incredible blessings of HOPE. What hope really is; why it’s so vitally important; and, how hope is our only “anchor” when everything else around us is crashing and burning. God is not only the Author of all Love, the Bible is also His message of “hope” to a dying world.

My motive for writing these articles is simple: I see hopelessness everywhere; not just in non-believers, but wide-spread in the Christian Body. And, since I am living in a similar hopeless situation right now, I want to use my own experience to help others walk through their difficult times without falling away, but instead letting those same circumstances push them even closer to the Lord.

Without hope, it’s a proven fact we will become barren, infertile and totally lifeless, and the enemy will come in, kill our dreams and destroy our faith. I know, because I’ve recently been there! Proverbs 13:12 says without hope, our heart will become sick and no “fruit” will be produced in our lives. My prayer is that the Lord would use my words not only to help others “step out of the flame and into His Arms,” but also help them turn their challenging situations into a “well of blessing.” (Psalm 84)

Someone said to me recently: “You don’t die if you lose your faith; but you do die if you lose your hope.” And, oh, how true this is! Listen to a few other comments written to me in the past year about “hopelessness”:

  • “My vision has been destroyed, so I have no reason to go on.”
  • “I’ve lost my meaning, my purpose and my hopes and dreams, all at one time.”
  • “I feel broken, torn, weak and lost. I know that God is the answer, but I don’t seem to be able to reach Him anymore.”
  • “I’m adrift, having lost my anchor, and yet, not knowing how to recover.”
  • “What I have heard from the Lord is not what’s happening in my life.”
  • “I feel like Jesus did in Matthew 27:46 when He said: ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’ He tells us other places in the Bible that He will never leave us or forsake us. Where is He now?”
  • “Like Job, the thing I greatly feared has come to pass in my life.”

Hope is like a golden cord connecting us to heaven. The more we cling to this cord, the more we can allow the Lord to bear the weight of our burdens and to draw us closer to Him.

Charles Spurgeon once said: “Hope…is like a star, not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, but only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” From my own perspective, especially now, this is so true.

Like I mentioned in my article last month, I’ve wanted to write a book on “hope” for years. Three years ago, I completed my first draft, but after everyone read it, they all very politely said: “Something is still missing. It’s not complete.” So, I put it aside. One year ago, however, the Lord showed me exactly what it was that was missing in that first manuscript — “personal experience.”

That was the day I was told I had a malignant melanoma in the mucous area of my nose (a stage three subcutaneous cancer, not a skin cancer) and only the removal of my entire nose area would save my life.

The doctor went on to say that if I did nothing, it would be fatal within a few months. Wow! Is there any more “personal experience” involving the loss of hope that one could have? My whole family was there and all of them burst into tears.

After praying and contemplating what the doctors had said, I decided that I had to make a choice. Either let God use the whole experience for good and share it with others; or, feel sorry for myself, go downhill and literally die. Thus, I thought there would be no better time (nor greater personal experience) than to finish the precious book that I began over four years ago… when life was going so smoothly. So, as I write these articles, bear in mind that the Lord is teaching me these very same things.

Hopelessness occurs when you pray and pray and pray and still nothing happens — nothing changes. In fact, just the opposite occurs. Everything continues to turn out against you. In my own situation, I got to the point where I didn’t even know how to pray anymore. I had expected so many miracles to come out of my ordeal, but instead, everything backfired and turned downhill.

I received another letter last week that said almost the very same thing: “What about the change we all waited for God’s Love to bring? What happened to the zeal we once knew as we reached out to grasp the pearl of great price? We felt incredible feelings, sang inspiring songs, listened to awesome testimonies, experienced spiritual revelation and absolutely believed in miraculous intervention. Why then have so many of us lost our focus? Why do so many of us want to turn back…”

The question on all of our minds is: How do we reconcile the traumatic things that so many of us are going through right now with God’s Word?

Most of my life I’ve had “hope” in Christ, but it always seemed more like a cerebral or intellectual thing, not a tangible asset. In fact, even after I began teaching Bible Studies, I could not have told you the difference between “hope” and “faith” even if I wanted to. But, after all the earth-shaking things that the Lord has allowed in my life the last two years, and specifically in the last few months, He not only has shown me what “hope” is, but also the importance of intimately knowing His faithfulness and His trustworthiness.

Through my own difficult experiences the Lord has shown me how to “see” His Hand in the darkness, which of course gives me the hope that He still cares and the endurance I need to carry on. I not only have faith that Christ is who He says He is, but I also have the trust and the hope that He will perform His promises to me in His perfect timing and way. I know He loves me and I know He will keep His Word to me no matter what I see, no matter what I feel and no matter what I think.

No matter how long it takes, no matter how bad it gets and no matter what I have to go through, I know He will work all these things together for my good.

Hope and Trust

By the way, did you know that the word “hope” and the word “trust” come from the very same root word? “Hope” is the Greek word elipso (Strong’s #1680) and “trust” is the Greek word elipizo (Strong’s #1679). Therefore, hope and trust essentially mean the very same thing. Hope is simply trusting God’s faithfulness. And that, of course, is what the Christian life is all about.

Philippians 1:12–14 really gives me courage: Paul says, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me (Paul) have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and all other places. And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear…”

This is my absolute prayer—that God Himself would be glorified in all that He allows in my life. Also, that God would give me the confidence to walk towards the unknown future with the ability to “see Him who is invisible” (no matter what is going on in my life) just like Moses did in Hebrews 11:27. Second Corinthians validates this and tells us that our short time of distress here on earth will result in God’s greatest blessings in the future:

“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are [tangible], but at the things which are not [tangible]; for the things which are [tangible] are temporal; but the things which are not tangible, [the spiritual things] are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:17–18

The Real Reason for our Salvation

Did you know the Christian life is like a “race”? Hebrews 12:1 explains it this way: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”

So whether we like it or not, if we are believers we are already enrolled and entered into that race. The goal—or the finish line—is what Philippians 3:14 calls “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

The “prize of the high calling” is the privilege of being able to rule and reign with Christ in the coming kingdom. Our life here on earth is simply the training ground for that privilege. “Hope” is a vital part of God’s plan for us to reach that “prize.” Hope is not only the connection to the Lord during the difficult times, it’s also the anchor that will keep us from straying and getting off course as we are running the race. In other words, without hope we’ll never reach “the finish line.”

What’s so sad is that many of us have not been taught the real reason for our salvation. Thus, we haven’t really understood why we have been called by God; what God expects of us here and now; and where He is taking us in the future. Consequently, the question remains: if we don’t understand what our future “goal” is, then how on earth can we be expected to have enough “hope” to weather our present challenging circumstances? We won’t! We won’t have the confidence, the trust or the perseverance that we need to endure the dark times.

Hope finds its fullest expression in endurance under trial. That’s why hope must be a “living hope.” Like faith, hope cannot depend upon something we experienced three years ago. It must be a living hope—a hope based upon God’s Love and His faithfulness today. Then, we’ll be able to cross over that “bridge” towards the future and see that Tree of Life on the other side.

As Proverbs 13:12, once again, reminds us: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of Life.”

To be continued next month: “Trusting God in the Darkness.” These articles have been taken from Nan’s new book Hope Against Hope—the Anchor of our Soul.