Last week, I had the honor to write a guest post about God’s faithfulness on my friend Bobi Ann’s blog, bobiann.com. We first met when we were three years old in Mother’s Day Out together at First Baptist Church Kilgore, TX. We crossed paths again in college and seminary, then we both married minister husbands and are both in ministry ourselves! It’s been a joy to reconnect this past year through writing. Today’s post, in a way, is part two of that post on faithfulness, so if you want, click here for part one.
Isn’t it interesting how God often takes the really slow road? How, sometimes, we have long since written off a part of our lives as old or forgotten? And He pulls it out and dusts it off and says, no, I still have plans for this.
My husband and I are both fans of fantasy book series (i.e. Harry Potter), long-running TV shows (LOST), movie trilogies, etc. (Yeah, call us nerds, but as John Greene says, “when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all.”)
We love books and shows like this because they are stories that take a long time to tell. The arc of the story is not over and done in one episode. There is a beginning and end (or in the case of LOST, they just give up mysteriously and leave everyone in confusion. Still bitter.); but in the middle, there are twists and turns, backstory, character development, and each little story within the big story is important. Everything is building and every detail is significant. These stories often take the slow road and something introduced in the beginning can play a huge role later on.
A few years ago, our church took one year to read through the Bible chronologically. Two things about that. One: The Old Testament is really long. Really, really long. Two: It wasn’t the first time I had read the stories, but reading them in this way I got completely wrapped in the history, the character development, and all the details (yes, even the genealogies were interesting!). I loved walking through the story from beginning to end. I loved seeing how things in the beginning were important in later stories and how all the pieces fit together. And just like a good movie where you anxiously wonder if the hero really will be able to save the day, I found myself identifying with Israel in their longing for a Messiah, for rescue. It was indeed Good News when Jesus finally came on the scene!
I loved being connected to THE story. The story of Jesus. Because ultimately all of Scripture is telling about Him. And all that time in the Old Testament was build up. It was getting ready for Him. If I could sum up the Old Testament in two words, it would be: wait and hope.
But talk about the slow road. We often get impatient when we wait for an answer from God for days or weeks or months. In the first three chapters of Scripture, the human race was already broken. Israel was promised a Messiah, and they waited. And waited. For thousands of years. Hoping for redemption. Hoping for rescue. Waiting and hoping.
When we talk about hope, we often use it in this way:
“I hope I get the job.”
“I hope we sell our house.”
“I hope the weather is nice for the birthday party.”
“I hope they have nachos in the cafeteria today.” (Who doesn’t?!)
When we say we hope in this way, we’re basing it off of a very narrow definition. It’s “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” (dictionary.com) This is temporary hope and the thing hoped for may or may not come to pass. This is a definition of hope, but it’s not the only one. This is not how the Bible talks about hope. Because our real hope is not in someTHING, but rather in someONE.
“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25, HCSB)
When God’s people waited and hoped for the coming Messiah, they hoped in something that was sure. It was promised. There was no way it wouldn’t come to pass. More than just wishing for what we want or crossing our fingers that events will turn out for the best, hope is “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.” (dictionary.com) It’s not hoping for a thing, it’s hoping in a Person. THE person in which our expectations are centered. The person of Christ.
When our hope is in Christ and not merely in wishful thinking, then hope cannot fail. Because Christ is eternally faithful. In Psalm 130, the psalmist declares, “I wait for the LORD; I wait, and put my hope in His word . . . Israel, put your hope in the LORD. For there is faithful love with the LORD, and with Him is redemption in abundance. And He will redeem Israel from all its sins.” (Psalm 130:5 & 7-8, HCSB) The hero will definitely save the day, no doubt about it.
There is the only true source of hope, hope that does not disappoint. It is Christ, His faithful love and His redemption of sins. There is our rescue. All the twists and turns along the way are part of the story. The details of our lives that we want so badly to work out are important, just like the thousands of years of Israel’s backstory is important. It’s all part of the bigger story that points us to a singular hope in the person of Christ. And regardless of earthly circumstances, this hope remains, because He is always faithful.