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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Excerpt from When God Speaks: 40 Days and Nights of His Promises

During this Christmas season, we may need this reminder.


Hope sustains many, especially in difficult times, but what is our hope attached to?

Not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-5

Hope is an essential ingredient in the human condition. With it, many have endured unbearable circumstances and terrible atrocities. Without it, mankind easily sinks into the pool of despondency. As the saying goes, “Hope Floats.” But what does it float on?

There are many things we can put our hope in—a better job, a good marriage, a dream vacation or winning the lottery. Some of these may come true, but they are mere wishes. Hope that bounces along the tides of our desires is merely a bubble that can pop at any time. True hope is different.

Hope that is based on the Word of God is an anchor of the soul. Its life emanates from the Creator to the created. As God breathed life into Adam, so the Holy Spirit breathes spiritual life into us. As Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in her timeless poem, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers.” It gives wing to our innermost yearnings. Yet hope that is anchored in the Christian faith is not a flighty creature. It not only promises a return, but delivers one.

As in years past, many Christians today are persecuted and tortured in other countries. They have endured starvation, beatings, imprisonment and even death, but their hope shines forth because of the grace of God. I met such a blessed one at a writer’s conference.

She shared with the audience her story of cruelty and captivity. While it was a heart rendering and painful one, there was hope in her eyes as she shared. The seeds of her faith sprouted while in prison, and she grew in perseverance and character. Hope grew within her even in desperate circumstances, as she prayed for a miracle to be set free. Then she explained that she was miraculously released because of a clerical mistake, and now appears before Congress on behalf of her imprisoned brothers and sisters in Christ.

Her hope of freedom was not wishful thinking; it was rooted in Christ.
Even if she had remained jailed or her body starved to death, her hope rested in the promise of everlasting freedom. As the verse says, “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” If our hope is rooted in God’s love, everything that comes our way can be transformed…trials and tribulations become tools for hammering out perseverance, which forms character and yields hope—a hope that takes flight on the wings of God’s eternal and steadfast love. And that’s not a bubble that bursts.

If you are interested in learning more about the persecuted church, you can find information from Voice of the Martyrs or Open Doors.

This book is available from AMAZON in print for $12.79 or e-book for $6.95