A Hope-Filled Heart
Just Like Jesus
Put the needs of human beings in your search engine and endless articles come up. Anywhere from Maslow’s writings about what our physical needs are for survival to Anthony Robbins’ writings about our emotional needs. His list includes the need for safety, stability, security, comfort, order, predictability, control and consistency. The word “hope” itself does not appear in Robbins’ writings. You might surmise that “hope” is implied in these needs listed. “I have hope for these things!” A Biblical search of the word hope gives the following: “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.” I’ve always believed and still do that “Hope” in something is a very basic emotional necessity for all humans . Hope in God and his promises is the ultimate hope.
People have different thoughts about where to place their hope. We place hope in others like our spouse or significant other, our children, careers and many have great hopes in material things. Time after time it has been proven these are not always trustworthy. People die, they betray you, children disappoint, careers can get derailed through no fault of your own and money is not always stable. Being a Christian does not make us immune from problems. I’m concerned that this idea is what we try to portray to people: “become a Christian and everything will be alright!” Has not happened in my life. At times it’s seemed like problems are abundant.
Max opens this chapter writing about a Harvard-educated researcher, William Rathje, who studies garbage. He learns a lot about man by studying his junk. Max writes: “Don’t you endure your share of rubbish? Snarled traffic. Computer foul-ups. Postponed vacations. And then there are days that a Dumpster couldn’t hold all the garbage we face: hospital bills, divorce papers, pay cuts and betrayals. What do you do when an entire truck of sorrow is dumped on you?” Max’s question is one that we all have to deal with at one time or maybe several times in our lives.
Max continues his thoughts: “On the night before his death, a veritable landfill of woes tumbled in on Jesus. Somewhere between the Gethsemane prayer and the mock trail is what has to be the darkest scene in the history of the human drama. What you will find is a compost heap of deceit and betrayal.”
Jesus had just asked God, his Father, to deliver him from the torture and death he faced. Max refers to this as a dilemma of an unanswered prayer. Then Judas shows up with an army of people to arrest Jesus and begin the absolute worst hours of his life. Add to this mound of garbage Matthew’s writing: “All of Jesus’ followers left him and ran away (26:56). Max writes: “From a human point of view, Jesus’ world has collapsed. No answer from heaven, no help from the people, no loyalty from his friends.” Ever had that feeling?
Max believes Jesus was able to see good in the bad, the purpose in the pain and God’s presence in the problem. Jesus referred to Judas as friend. Max and other commentators agree that Jesus’ use of “friend” was not sarcastic but a recognition of their relationship. Max points out that of the ninety-eight of the words Jesus spoke at his arrest, thirty refer to the purpose of God. Max writes: “Jesus choose to see his immediate struggle as a necessary part of a greater plan. He reviewed the Gethsemane conflict as an important but singular act in the grand manuscript of God’s drama. His suffering was necessary to fulfill prophecy, and his sacrifice to fulfill the law.”
Max: “Wouldn’t you love to have a hope-filled heart? Wouldn’t you love to see the world through the eyes of Jesus? Where we see unanswered pray, Jesus saw answered prayer. Where we see the absence of God, Jesus saw the plan of God. Note Jesus comment in Matthew 26:53: ‘ Surely you know that I could ask my Father, and He would give me more than twelve armies of angels’. Of all the treasures Jesus saw in the trash, this was the most significant.”
Max continues: “Sure Max but Jesus was God. He could see the unseen. He had eyes for heaven and a vision for the supernatural. I can’t see the way he saw.” Max’s response: “Not yet maybe, but don’t underestimate God’s power. He can change the way you look at life.” I believe that Max is thinking about our faith and trust in God because no where in the Scriptures do I read that God has or will equip us the ability to foresee the future.
Max uses the story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings: 6 as his proof that God can change how we look at life. An angry king sent out his army to surround the city of Dothan. Elisha’s servant was afraid and asked what they could do. Elisha assured his servant that the army that fought for them was larger. Elisha prayed that God open his servant’s eyes and the young man then was able to see the angels who were there to fight for them.
I’m finding it difficult to relate Elisha’s story to my life. Kay and I have had garbage in our lives from losing a baby in the early stages of pregnancy, our son in his late teens using drugs for a short period of time to our daughters unwed pregnancy and my stroke which left my speech really messed up. Yes, we prayed and had hope for positive outcomes and they happened for the most part. But we had no preview of the outcomes. We could not see the “angels” waiting to help through these struggles. Were we as equally equipped as Christ as experienced these things? Again it seems to me that faith and trust in God are required.
Max continues his thoughts: “God never promises to remove us from our struggles. He does promise, however, to change the way we look at them.” Paul writes:
Romans 8:35-39 New International Version (NIV)
35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I really like the Message translation: Romans 8:35-39 The Message (MSG)
35-39 “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.“
Our hope comes through the faith and belief that God has our back!
Max writes that Paul uses the phrase “through God” but we would prefer another preposition to through. ”We’d opt for ‘apart from all these things, or away from all these things, or even without all these things. But Paul says in all these things. The solution is not to avoid trouble but to change the way we see our troubles.” Through our HOPE in Him!
Max makes the statement: “God can correct your vision.” He closes by using the examples of Balaam seeing the angel, Elisha seeing the army, Jacob seeing the ladder, Saul seeing the Savior and finally the blind man in Mark 10:51 requesting that he have sight. Max says: “More than one have made the request of the blind man. And more than one have walked away with clear vision. Who is to say God won’t do the same for you?”
At times I struggle with hope because my faith and trust are weak which to me are the basis of hope. It’s hard to find God’s purpose in the death of the four-year-old in the tornado in Putnam County last week. Why must my friend struggle with dementia? At times I believe dementia is worse on the caregiver so why does she have to struggle. I pray for certain things for people then worry about it. I have no doubt that God can do what I ask for but worry about whether he will.
Think about these internet writings:
“Hope and trust are two words that are associated with optimism. ... The key difference between hope and trust is their base; trust is based on reliability, confidence or belief in someone else whereas hope is not based on such qualities. Hope is merely a desire and expectation for a particular thing to happen.”
“When it comes to God the relationship is that if we trust Him (action), the effect will be that we have hope. While hope is also a verb which implies that we can simply hope for something, trusting in God makes that hope more attainable. It is not simply luck, or chance that something good can happen to us.”
“One cannot have hope without faith. ... When people have hope they have faith, because they hold a belief that says, “I believe that the future will be better.” And while they have no grounds to “prove” the hopeful assumption, they have faith in it. While faith without hope is possible, hope without faith is not.”
Paul’s writing in Romans sums it up: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 15:13 (NLT)
Just Like Jesus written by Max Lucado, Published by Word Publishing – 1998 – Used with permission
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