Yesterday was one of those rare beautiful days that occasionally occur in mid-winter in which the temperature was warm, the sun was shining, and the winds were calm. It was a nice reprieve from the usual cold winds that seem to chill to the bone even when the temperature is above freezing. It was one of those days that give hope that winter will eventually give way to spring.
Hope – I have thought a lot about hope lately because I was recently asked how I could acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all things including the trials in my life and still have hope that God would answer my prayers.
I have wrestled with the answer for quite some time because I really think there is more to the question than what is stated. I think the real question is, “how do we hope that our prayers will be answered in such a way that we will be happy?” And I think the answer to that question may be another question. In what do we hope to find happiness? Initially, my answer was that I trust however my prayers are answered, God will be glorified. But I don’t think that really explains the peace, confidence, and joy I have knowing that whatever befalls me I will still find hope in the Lord.
While I was wrestling with the question of hope and the sovereignty of God, I happened to read Psalm 71 as part of my daily Bible reading and I was reminded by David’s prayer of the connection between hope and praise. In this Psalm and in many others David repeatedly states that his hope is in the Lord and each time David follows his statement of hope with praise. In verse 5 and 6 (b) he proclaims, “For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth….my praise shall be continually of thee.” And in verse 14 he declares, “But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.”
Hope, peace, praise, gratitude, and joy – I think all of these are interconnected. We have hope because we serve a God who is worthy of praise and He is worthy of praise because He is sovereign and eternal and because He is sovereign and eternal we have hope and can praise Him.
Having hope despite our circumstances and praising God in all things does not mean that we do not grieve over circumstances in this life or that our joy is not shrouded for a time by disappointment or deep grief. There are those circumstances that bring us to our knees as we ask for mercy and deliverance – just as David did. There are times when the tears flow freely – and we are not alone – if you read the Psalms there are many times when David talks about the tears he has shed over his circumstances. But I know there is still hope in the midst of our darkest moments and that hope is magnified when we praise. Psalm 71:23, “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.”
We may not always have hope that our circumstances will change or that deliverance will come in this present age, but we have hope in a God who is eternal and eternally sovereign and who has redeemed our soul. Just as winter will eventually melt into spring, so will the curtain of this present world eventually roll back and that which is eternal will be revealed. We may pray for a reprieve in the winter of today, but our hope lies in the assurance of an eternal tomorrow.