Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

Many times, I receive the idea for my next ruminator from someone I have recently spoken to or prayed with. This one is no different. People need hope today more than ever before. So much going on across every front. If a person had not seen any news for a week or two, they would be tempted to not believe recent events: Covid, vaccine passports, Afghanistan. Making deals with known terrorists—paying them if they agree to “be good.” Placing billions of dollars’ worth of the best military weaponry, aircraft, and intelligence into the very hands of the enemy. Couple that with personal trials and some days it seems almost surreal. Like a poorly written story rather than real life. I’ve given some thought to good endings. Not the kind that close books: “And they all lived happily ever after.” But rather, we have read the end of our story.

There has never been a time in history that as critical that we let our light shine before men and are ready to provide an answer for the hope within our hearts. What is the answer to bring hope and evict the fear of the unknown to those who ask? It comes through only one venue.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment and has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.

Each one of us must receive the truth, He Who is love, by faith. And faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen very carefully to our part.

Romans 10:13-14 says: “For Whoever will call on the Name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him (Jesus) if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?”

“Who is He sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in Him.” John 9:36.

People are looking, searching, for hope. They’re searching for something that is absolute, unchangeable, solid, in a world that is attempting to obliterate nearly everything absolute. Many feel the things and individuals we could count on in any circumstance are gone.

How we need real love. Without real love and real hope, life becomes an exhausting trial of trying to protect ourselves on every side, blindly attempting to find something or someone bigger and stronger to protect us inside and out.

Psalm 61:2 tells us, “From the ends of the earth, (I’m searching everywhere), will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed (and nothing seems safe), lead me to the Rock that is higher than I; higher than all my frail attempts to find solid ground and a safe place of refuge.”

Hope in our personal lives, hope for our children, hope for our marriages, hope for healing, and even hope for hope itself. It takes resolve for all of us in these times and seasons to do more than just stay afloat, but to shine as lights for others who walk in darkness. Life can be difficult, at times brutal. Though for some it seems that fear and disillusionment are winning, never ever underestimate the power of hope in Christ.

The Old Testament word for hope has the connotation of a cord, used as an attachment. The New Testament calls it an anchor for the soul. Hope is our lifeline and our stabilizer every day. Through crises and through buffeting by our enemies. It’s vital we believe in our hearts we are not at the mercy of life’s unpredictable winds, currents, or trials. If you truly believe, you will survive your personal storm.

Why is hope so important to us? Because without it, the demoralizing power of hopelessness paralyzes the soul.

Hope is to the heart what seeds are to the earth. Without hope, life is sterile and unfruitful. Without hope your dreams can’t even be conceived, let alone come to fruition. Hope is the incubator where faith is formed and grows.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

If you don’t have any hope for your future, then you won’t have the faith to face it, or move forward into your personal destiny. Love and hope assure our souls that there is a higher power at the controls of our lives. And not just anyone, but the One who has all power, authority, and the desire to have our best interests at heart. A man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps. 

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12.

Hope deferred creates a diseased heart — a “dis-eased” heart.

When you lose hope in all the tough trials you are facing, you’ll move from being a life-changer to a mere spectator in life. Paul tells us in Hebrews we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us, as well as run in such a way that you may win. When your hope is deferred, you’re in no shape to win and you may even feel like opting out of the race completely. Jesus wants us to run the race of life enthusiastically, effectively, and joyfully. So, it’s important we guard ourselves from this epidemic of hopelessness.

There are many things that can derail our hope — pushing our dreams to some distant place we can’t even see. It can be the death of someone we love, a failed marriage or loneliness, an unsaved child, betrayal, rejection, false accusations, or the death of a dream. The list goes on and on. Every single one of us must face this condition in our lives, some more often than others.

If you read this and are reminded of something in your life that hurts when you think of it, you may have hope deferred in that point in your life. Symptoms tell us a lot when we’re sick.

Spiritually, if your passion has waned and apathy is encroaching on your property, this loss of hope is at work. You’ll find yourself going through the motions, doing and saying the right things, while all the while feeling afraid and under fire on the inside. If disappointment is stronger than joy in your life, or if you cringe when others tell you, “God is going to come through for you, just wait!” You need an adjustment regarding hope.

King David said, “When my spirit is overwhelmed within me, You know my path. In the way wherein I have walked have they hidden a trap or a snare for me. I look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; there is no escape or refuge for me; no one cares for my soul. I cried unto Thee, O Lord; I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may praise Your Name once again; the righteous shall compass me about; for Thou shall deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142: 3-7.

But God! We can turn the tables and become prisoners of hope rather than prisoners of despair. Zechariah 9:12.

You may not feel like it now, but this too shall pass. Hope deferred produces fear and causes you to be uncertain about yourself, and even uncertain of God’s love for you. When you should be able to move forward in faith, believing you are more than a conqueror, you find yourself running and hiding from your problems. Hebrews 12:12 tells us to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees.

“Feeble” is translated from the Greek word “paraluo,” from where we get our word “paralyzed.” Fear paralyzes. It immobilizes you. Looking at your issues through the lens of hope deferred is like looking at your enemies with a magnifying glass.

“And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our own eyes as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Numbers 13:33.

Overreaction usually follows. And read that scripture again. The enemy can see when we lack faith and hope. When we feel like a bug compared to our enemies, that is precisely how our enemies view us. As no threat. God wants to heal your heart, fill you with power and hope, and cause you to be bold and filled with faith. Then He commands us to go and tell others. If not, how will they know what Christ has done for them?

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed these words of hope as he was looking at the burning ruins of Jerusalem, “This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new, like the dew, every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore, will I hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:21-24.

When we find ourselves in extremely difficult places, there is a verse we will often hear from others or even from the Lord Himself.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes.”

Though it may not be what we want to hear when our heart or body aches and our hope feels low or hijacked, this verse is truth, and it is life.

Hebrews 10:23 tells us to, “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith and hope without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.”

This Greek word “confession” is “homologia,” which means “to say the same thing as.” We must speak what God says about our situations. God’s Word is alive and powerful. Speaking it in faith releases power.

Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”

Scriptures tell us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. This does not mean we ignore our situations. It means we are to agree with what God says about our situation and start speaking it out to others and to ourselves in faith. Faith isn’t positive thinking or denying the reality of your circumstances. Holding on to our hope and our faith is denying the circumstances the right to remain in control or reign in your life.

Jesus Christ is your hope, your anchor, and the happy ending you are hungering for. The Way. The Truth, and the Life.

Ruminate on that.