“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.” – Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
Hope is greater than fear.
Thanks to my sisters, I get an email every weekday morning called “theSkimm.” As someone who is not an avid news-watcher, I love that it gives me all the headlines and key details in one place. But I’ll be honest – it can get pretty depressing. From ISIS to the presidential race to bathroom policies, it’s not always an uplifting read. Add a little Facebook news feed and Twitter updates, and I can easily be overcome with all the bad news.
I’m so glad we have the Bible – God’s Word – that is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It’s filled with God’s promises, and it’s written to teach us, “so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
It seems to me that we are living in some pretty hopeless times. In the midst of all the craziness and drama, I have to ask myself: Where is my hope? Where is my trust? As a Christian, my hope can’t be placed in anything on this earth. My hope is not clinging to any presidential candidate. My hope is not found in Target’s bathrooms. My hope is in God!
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:5-8
My hope comes from Him! I will not be shaken, because He alone is my firm foundation.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” – Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11
God is our ever-present help. He is our refuge and our strength. Because of these truths, we don’t have to give way to fear. Instead, we can cling to hope!
“‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them.” – Psalm 11:3-4
I love this! What can we do when everything around us is falling apart? We can keep trusting the Lord because He is still on His heavenly throne. He’s in control; He knows what He’s doing. And He is worthy to be trusted.
“Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.” – Psalm 112:6-8
I will not be shaken! I will have no fear of bad news. My heart is steadfast and secure. No fear. Only hope.
“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord that to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalm 118:6-9
What can man do to us? The Lord is with us; He will never leave us, or forsake us. Life is so much better when we find our refuge in God, not people.
“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:16-17
He is our Creator, our King, our Author, our Perfecter. He holds everything together, the whole world in the palm of His hand. I can put my hope and trust in the only One who sees the big picture, beginning to end. (For more on trusting God, click here!)
We must remember: this world is not our home! I love how CS Lewis said it: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
This journey heavenward, in the grand scheme of things, is a breath, a flash… we’re just passing through. But there will be times on this earth when things might get a little bit uncomfortable. Life here won’t match up to the Bible’s standard. Plenty of people will disagree with us. It will get worse before it gets better. We just can’t forget that Jesus wins – in the end, He will be victorious. And in the meantime, we’re not called to judge or condemn. We’re called to love.
The Bible says that when we judge others, we will be judged.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1-2
“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” – James 5:8-9
We are not called to judge; we are called to love!
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:10-11
“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
We are loved by God. We have to receive this love and be confident of it. But we’re not meant to keep this love to ourselves. We’re called to be conduits, fountains overflowing with His love. To the extent that He has loved us, we’re called to love one other. Why? Because He loved us first. He set the greatest example for us. The world will know we’re His disciples when we love like He does! God’s love is unconditional; it never gives up. His love doesn’t judge; it covers over a multitude of sins.
What does it say about Christians when the world is doing a better job of loving certain groups of people? I know non-believers who are more loving and accepting of “sinners” than others, including myself at times. Let’s stop rating our sins and comparing them, believing the lie that one sin is less of a sin than another. Sin is sin. Our love should cover over, not expose and judge. Our love should be open-armed and receptive. Loving our enemies, “sinners”, unbelievers, unlovable people – we should be first in line to love anyone and everyone. Why? Because God loved us first. He created each person, He loves each person, and He has called us to love everyone with His love.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” – Romans 15:7
Just as Jesus accepted us, so we are to accept one another. This brings praise to God!
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18
We’re told to live at peace with everyone… not just Christians, not just people we get along with. Everyone. As far as it depends on us, if it is possible… which reminds me of Matthew 19:26 – “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21
I’d rather live a life overcoming evil with good than a life of being overcome by evil. Passing judgment and giving way to fear isn’t good. Love is good. Forgiveness is good. Hope is good.
When it comes to issues that we don’t agree with… Let’s be radical in our love. Let’s be faithful in our prayers. Let’s be pure in our speech. Even with it comes to politics…
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13:1
Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'(Exodus 22:28)” – Acts 23:5
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Let’s remember that God is God. He’s in charge. He’s still on the throne. He establishes authority. He doesn’t want us to speak evil about our leaders. He wants us to love them and pray for them (requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving).
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14
I haven’t arrived. I’m still struggling through some of the current issues, trying to figure out where I stand on certain issues. But I’m straining toward what’s ahead. I’m ready to lay down my natural tendency to judge and answer the call to love.
“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.” – Maya Angelou
Let’s be done with fear, and invite hope to stay.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13