The Power of Hope
December 24, 2022
I read the following thoughts by Dutch Sheets in his daily "Give Him 15." It went like this. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name."(1) These are the opening lines of the song, Solid Rock, written in 1834 by Edward Mote, a Baptist pastor from England.
The well-known refrain states: "On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand."(2)
The refrain of this hymn is based on Matthew 7:24-27, which anyone who's attended Sunday school will recognize as the parable of The Wise and the Foolish Builders. The passage says:
"Anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!" (GNT)
Most of the words of this song, not just the refrain, are based on Scripture. Edward Mote must have been a man who loved God's Word. He had come to understand hope was found in Christ, and he clearly embraced this truth in his life. I'm sure he had no idea the powerful song he ended up writing would become a classic, reminding the millions who would someday sing it that hope is found in Jesus.
Hope is not something we need only now and then, based on circumstances. Hope must stay alive; it begins with Christ. The day we say yes to Him, there is an expectancy of a different outcome to our lives. Eternity is planted in our hearts, and hope is a fruit growing from it, keeping our hearts turned toward Him.
The Lord tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 He has good plans for us and, as they unfold, we will see He gives us "a good future and a hope." The hope He gives, motivates us to pursue the future He has planned. This allows us to impart hope, which puts wind beneath the wings of others, especially the children we raise. Hope looks past any fog or darkness that may be encroaching on our path, and helps us find our way forward.
I state in my book, "The Power of Hope:" Hope is to the heart what seeds are to the earth. Without hope, life is sterile, unfruitful. Without it, dreams won't be conceived, and destinies won't be realized. Hope is powerful because it is the starting line, the genesis, the launch pad. It is, in fact, the incubator where faith is formed: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for" God tells us (Hebrews 11:1 KJV, emphasis added). If there is no hope for the future, there will be no faith to face it - let alone build it."(3)
Strong's concordance tells us the word "hope" in Jeremiah 29:11 is the word "tiqvah." It has two meanings: an expectancy; a cord, as an attachment. The second definition is fascinating. Hope connects us to our future.
Our dear friend, JoNell Burch Gerland, wrote a wonderful book entitled "Threads of Hope...in a Frazzled World." It's a devotional in which she has written 31 short words of encouragement on the topic of hope. JoNell shares a testimony on day nine about hope as expectancy. She describes the important difference between expectation, which is a hope-killer, and expectancy, which is a hope-nurturer:
"Some time back, I was in a situation where I had prayed harder, fasted longer, and did my very best to follow all the right pathways to see a specific prayer answered. Believing I'd heard from God and giving it my all, I was doing my best to do all the right things. Well, much to my utter surprise and disappointment, nothing turned out as I thought it should or would. This caused me great grief, and I caused others grief in the process also."
"One morning while I was in prayer, the Lord broke into my thoughts and asked me a simple question. 'JoNell, you've ceased to expect much from Me, haven't you?' Knowing He values honesty, I responded to Him simply, 'Yes, that's true, Lord.'
"Then He spoke something to my heart that changed me forever. He said, 'Daughter, when you cease to expect good things from Me, you protect your heart from the pain of disappointment, but you break Mine.' Then He said, 'How would you like it if your children no longer expected good things from you?'
"I realized then that dwelling at or on disappointment sets us back from the onward journey He has for us. At this place, if we are not careful, we say basically, 'Okay, I will walk with You, and I will love You, but I am not expecting much out of our relationship any longer. I will just keep my expectations low, and I will be fine.'"
JoNell goes on to show us the disciples dealt with this same issue. "We had our hopes up that He was the One,"( Luke 24:21). She explains, "Jesus had not lived up to their expectations, and it weighed heavily upon their souls as they walked along...Expectation is based on what we want to see. Expectancy is based on WHO He is, not on what He will do."(4)
This brings us back to the words of Mote's song, "Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." At some point, while walking along life's path with the Lord, this powerful truth became a revelation and he shared it with all the world in his hymn.
The second definition of "tiqvah" is a "cord or rope." It is used in this way in Joshua 2:18. A woman named Rahab hid the Israelite spies when they came to Jericho to check out the promised land. Because she helped them, they were led to save her and her family from the destruction coming to Jericho. The spies gave her a red cord and told her to hang it in her window. They cautioned her to be sure all of her extended family members were in the room with the cord, so they could all be saved. In verse 21, she accepted their offer. It was a very good thing she did. The entire city and its inhabitants were destroyed; only Rahab and her family survived. The passage reads, "When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet cord [hope] hanging from the window through which you let us down... 'I accept your terms,' she replied. And, she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope [hope] hanging from the window." (NLT)
Rahab was being asked to put her hope in these men, and the God she knew was with them. Their promise to her was a covenant expressed in the blood-red cord. Most scholars see this as a prophetic picture of Christ's shed blood, which is where we place our trust. This symbolism seems even more likely when we realize Rahab married a man from the tribe of Judah (Salmon) and became the mother of Boaz. King David was one of her descendants. She was part of Christ's lineage! That He descended from Rahab makes it almost certain that the scarlet cord symbolized the blood of Christ, through which we are saved.
Mote's song says, "His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood; when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay." Let's put all our hope in His covenant with us, knowing we are saved and anchored solidly in His love and plan.
"Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double." (Zechariah 9:12 ESV)
Pray with me: Father, we ask You to heal Your people from hope-deferred. You tell us hope-deferred makes our hearts sick (Proverbs 13:12). Heal them spiritually and emotionally so they can be hope-givers to those around them. Many have been in a season of disappointment; some have even abandoned hope, and lost faith in You. They have allowed circumstances to determine how they see and relate to You. Hope can correct our vision and bring us into right relationship with You. You are great! You are good, faithful, and have a plan to bring us into a hope-filled future. We break off of Your people fear, disillusionment, hope-deferred, weak hearts, and confusion. We release Your promise of "no fear," but instead "power, love, and a sound mind." We release over them the spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13). Our hope and faith are strong for ourselves, our families, and our nation. We pray and decree these things in the name of our solid rock, Jesus! Amen. We declare that a hope-filled church will reflect Jesus, rejoicing in hope, standing patient in tribulation, and remaining constant in prayer.
Parts of today's post were taken from JoNell Gerland'book "Threads of Hope...in a Frazzled World."