I used to know what “hope” looked like. I had pictures in my head of what life looked like when God came through with keeping promises. That future portrait isn’t as clear as it once was. I need to look through a different lens.
We all have a little “extra” we put on the basic promises that God has made to us. We know God will provide food, clothing, shelter, and labor for His people. He shows a general kindness in doing so even for those who do not believe. For His children, though, He’s promised presence, provision, and even sanctified progress in preparation of the ultimate promise of eternal life with Him in His kingdom. However, we add our own pre-conceived ideas of what “shelter” looks like (a city, type of home, etc), what “labor” looks like (that company, salary, church position, etc). Is God less faithful because He doesn’t “come through” in meeting these ideals?
Of course not.
You know deep down in your ever-sanctified gut that He is faithful and it doesn’t have to look like you want it to. However, in dying to those expectations, while trusting in His provision, you have to move forward in hopeful anticipation, in faith that He will (and does) come through for His own.
A different lens is needed.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
David is pressed upon by enemies. He knows God will deliver Him. He knows the far future result for the righteous and the unrighteous. His initial determination, however, includes a strategy with viewpoint. He WILL give thanks. He WILL do so as he RECOUNTS all of God’s deeds in His past. This WILL produce praise to the Most High God.
We see this again in Psalm 13…
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me
In this Psalm, David is feeling forgotten, abandoned, and nearly wholly defeated. He states a desperate cry to God to bring light to the situation. However, with no indication that the circumstances change, vv.5-6 (above) are given. This beautiful interjection is filled with a Spirit-driven determination more than a circumstance-changing emotion. David resolves to trust and rejoice because God has DEALT BOUNTIFULLY (past tense) with him.
When you can’t see clearly just how God is going to deliver you from present difficulty take this as a blessed frustration. Know that God, in His kind and difficult discipline for His children, is pressing you to praise Him now by recalling the varied ways He’s proven His faithfulness in the past. Change the lens. Instead of taking time to fret over the future, recollect and record the varied ways God has shown up in the past in your deliverance. I think you’ll notice the varied ways He’s done so, but He remains the same…a faithful, loving, holy Father who loves you and is for you.
In Remembrance of Me…
For most of us, we remember these words etched on the front of a table just in from of the pulpit…the communion table. All of these personal remembrances of God’s work should launch us to the essence of corporately sharing in the Lord’s table. In taking communion together, we, regardless of our circumstances, remember the finality and sufficiency of Christ’s life and work on behalf of those who believe. Ultimately, recalling Christ’s redemptive accomplishment is what we must be driven to, knowing that our ultimate relief, and the most certain perspective we can share in future deliverance, is to be with Christ in His Kingdom, purified and glorified to magnify His name forever.
So, no matter how desperate your situation, or how cloudy the future appears, please know that ultimately you will be delivered and set free from all concern when present with Him. You’ll know this by looking back at His finished work on your behalf. Do this personally (in private devotion) and corporately (in sharing the Lord’s table).
For more present relief, take time to prayerfully journal how God has worked in your life in the past and take heart that He has come through and will do so again. Just remember, it may not look like you had hoped it would look, but it will be perfectly what is necessary to help you desire your future relief at His coming more than you did before.