Advent Day 10: How to Hope the Right Way

We hope in a lot of things, especially around Christmas. Goodwill and peace. The fudge we inhaled won’t end up on our waistline. The bills won’t stack too high come January. We hope we win the lottery. And we hope and we hope.

Hope vs. Wishful Thinking

In reality, our hope is more like wishful thinking. We hope this & that will come true. However, that being said, there is a sort of uncertainty. We aren’t sure our hopes will come to pass. I mean, we wouldn’t bet our lives on it.

When our hopes are disappointed (as is often the case), a seed of distrust in planted in our hearts. We build up little walls for protection. Grow cynical. Gave doubts and fears. Build fortresses. Run and hide.

What if our HOPE is wrong?

Read Genesis 27 & 28. Isaac grew up and married Rebekah…and they had two sons. But these two boys had a serious case of sibling rivalry (Genesis 25). They fought about everything! And to make matters worse, their parents played favorites. Isaac loved his outdoorsy Esau and Rebekah adored her mamma’s boy, Jacob. 

There was a lot of strife in this home. Dysfunction. Because, like most families, humanity is not always harmonious. And I love how the Bible gives us an honest, real, vulnerable picture into the heart of man. 

Because we are human, we often want to deny our sinfulness. But the Bible keeps pointing us back to take a look inwardly. We are stubborn, selfish, greedy, alienated, prideful, and idolatrous people. When you put us in cramped quarters (like a home), you see the worse of us. A sin-mess. 

Isaac is nearing the end of his life. On his deathbed, he asks for his boys to come in for their final blessing. In this culture, the blessing would go to the oldest male. One caveat: Isaac’s eyesight has gone bad. Seizing the moment, Rebekah takes matters into her own hands and convinces the younger son, Isaac, to steal his brother’s blessing. When we fear losing HOPE, we desperately try to fix it. We show our desperation.

What is Real Hope?

Fortunately, in the mess, God is at work. We can’t mess up God’s plan. The Bible reveals to us our sinfulness and our powerlessness over and over again. It is showing us our need for a Savior. We can’t “fix” this broken world….only God can.

The Bible reveals our sin-mess so that we can see our need for JESUS. The main theme of the Bible is God’s plan for the redemption of a needy, sin-mess people. Without the mess, we do not need JESUS. 

Sin must be seen and powerlessness must be experienced before we really turn to Jesus and embrace his gospel.

John Piper

Take heart if everything in your life isn’t perfect. It wasn’t meant to be. Our friend Isaac had to run for his life, in fear of his brother Esau. There is nothing more painful than family discord. This story shows how we are supposed to place our hope in God, not the things of this world. (And if this is you today, don’t lose hope. God can do anything! He can bring sin to the surface so that we see our need for Him. He can use us to demonstrate the Gospel to our loved ones and the world around amid the mess). 

Hope Found in God

Biblical hope is different than that of this world. It is based on God. His character, His attributes, His Word, His promises, and His faithfulness to name a few. This kind of hope is not based on our circumstances or the nightly news. It is built on a sure foundation of certainty–God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. 

As for Isaac, God’s will prevailed. God worked in the mess to demonstrate His gracious love. God loves turning messes into mercies. 

“I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 1Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 

Genesis 28:13-15

Are you placing your hope in worldly things? Do you need to replace it with Biblical hope? Do you believe God can work in your current mess to reveal His redemptive mercy?

Note: This blog was influenced by Jared Carter’s sermon at Austin Ridge on December 9, 2019.