The truth about hope

Published 6:00 am Sunday, September 25, 2022

By Charles Qualls

With Hope

Where does your hope come from? I mean that question as personally and as individually as you are willing to hear it. Where does your hope come from? Some of you are encultured by your faith to answer automatically, “From my faith in the Lord.” 

If you answered that too fast, I am especially talking to you today. But I pray I am talking to all of us. Because we need to be more in touch with our sources of real hope, sources of light for living, than to simply reach into the nearby pocket of our faith and pull out a quick, pat answer. 

Turns out, life is too tough for that. Life is gritty. Life will slip up on you, sometimes pop a cigarette into its mouth, tie a bandana around its head and punch a shallow faith right in the eye. 

Actually, I do hope that your faith and mine will be the primary and predominant source of hope for our living. In fact, our faith is supposed to shape and guide us in every endeavor of our lives. Including the moment when we need hope. 

It’s just that I suggest we’d better have actually examined our faith. We had better have nurtured it beyond the day of our acceptance. We had better be asking tough questions of our faith along the way.

I hope we have tested it in times of challenge and stored up the memory and awareness from those tougher times. Maybe, if our faith is real, we will have grown and deepened it by investing, thinking, praying and by living by these things we believe. 

In short, I hope your faith is real rather than an oath or a pledge. Your faith and mine will need to run deeper than mere loyalty or an encultured label. I hope your faith and mine are especially deeper than a mere moment in time when we were children.

All of this is why we knock ourselves out at our church to offer Sunday School each week. We faithfully hold worship services, Bible studies and other growth or service opportunities along the way. Because it’ll take all we can do, and then some, to develop a real faith that will stand up to life. 

That’s why we need to tell the truth about our hope. If we truly are people of faith in God through Jesus Christ, then we are hungry souls who may occasionally be desperate to taste God’s grace. Or as the writer of Psalm 42 says, we may be like the deer who longs for the water. In those moments when our souls long for God, this psalmist has learned that God is able. 

That may not fix the issue of the moment. That may not completely soothe the fear or hurt of the moment. But as we read the words in Psalm 42 it is undeniable that this person is choosing, right before us, to place his hope in God. 

He is clear that his burden is heavy. Yet, he is reaching for his hope and finding it to be right there with him on the journey. If you’ve laid awake at night and stared at the ceiling, Psalm 42 is compelling. 

If you have grieved the loss, the hardship or the giving up of a dream then Psalm 42 ought to be of interest. If someone has done you wrong, and you can’t figure out why it happened, then Psalm 42 might at least help you to move on. If you have struggled to adjust to the surprise, or to accept the news you never wanted to receive, then Psalm 42 speaks into your life and begs for our attention.

You see, the deer mentioned in this psalm isn’t just thirsty. His head is on a swivel constantly, monitoring the possibility of predators. Wolves, panthers, coyotes, humans and the like. We humans have predators, too. The psalmist knew that. Disappointment, sadness, disease, loss, trauma, injustice, hurt– they all are predators that will hunt for us at times. Left undefended, one of them will get us eventually. 

The psalmist is so real about all of that. Still, he chooses to draw from the resources of his faith in God. So let me ask you again. From where does your hope come? 

Here is the truth about hope. Hope is a gift from God. Hope is also a choice. I pray in our toughest moments, we’ll make the choice to draw hope from our faith.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.