Hope is the Anchor of Assurance
Most people have a vague sense of hope as sort of a wish list. The thinking goes like this, “If I do my part, maybe things will work out well.” And maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. At best, this kind of thinking is hopeful wishing.
Christians are sometimes called Believers. That is, they believe the promises of God in the Bible. Hebrews 6:19 reads, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” In previous verses, the writer of Hebrews reminds the readers of God’s promise and fulfillment to Abraham to bless and multiply his seed. He goes on to point out in verse 18 that it is impossible for God to lie, and we are consoled when we run to God as our refuge in times of trouble.
When God makes a bold commitment in scripture, it is His word. We can count on it. Many promises come with overlooked condition statements that start with “If…” We need to factor these in and not misread a promise. Galatians 6:9 reads, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” This promise of reaping positive out of doing good talks about persevering in the doing good part. Nonetheless it is a promise. It allows us to move from hoping to knowing. It becomes an anchor of assurance. For the believer, hope is divine assurance of things that aren’t here yet.
Prayer: “Lord show me your hope for my life in your scriptures.”
Lots of people hope things will be okay. They hope their kids will grow up okay and nothing bad will happen to them. They hope God will bless them. They hope God is listening to their prayers.
The bible invites us to pray about everything. Everything means everything, and not just when we’ve exhausted our known resources. We can pray before we start a new venture. Many people wait till there’s a crisis whereas we can ask for God’s care every day.
Like any parent, God wants to hear from us regularly, not just at birthdays and special events. When we are in the practice of talking to our parents every day, it’s no big deal to ask them to do something for us that’s within their capabilities. In fact, it might be upsetting to a parent if our kids asked complete strangers to do what we could easily do and want to do for them. Being in prayer relationship directly with God makes asking easy.
It’s a lot easier to ask a prayer partner for a quick prayer of favor heading into a business meeting rather than having to spend two hours bringing someone up to speed on the project and then why a particular meeting is so important. Some people wonder why they need to tell God anything if He already knows everything. The process of talking to God allows us to articulate our needs before Him. It also allows us for to get confirmation and direction along the way as we move forward with a new venture.
The closer our relationship is to God, the more comfortable we are in taking our concerns to God as our friend and partner. We have the opportunity to take everything to God in prayer. Ask, Ask, Ask for what we need. And be specific. Sometimes God waits till be get specific so that when there’s an answer to prayer with the specific detail we requested, we definitely know that it was God and not just coincidence or good luck. In bringing our needs to God, we are inviting Him into the process of meeting our needs. Most people tend to relate blessings with financial abundance. God can meet these needs with provisions through our bank account and great jobs. But there are many needs that money can’t buy. This is another reason to be in dialogue with God about all the steps along the way.
Rest in the assurance that He hears our prayers and is at work with answers. We are invited to continue the dialogue of prayer.
God loves to answer this question, no matter what the situation. We often wait till difficult times to ask this question since it’s easy to coast along when things are satisfactory or good. Life is often a learning ground if we open our heart to what God wants to teach.
God may want to teach us something about ourselves. There may be some aspect of our personality getting filed down (ouch). Or there may be some quality being birthed in us that is not natural – like patience. It could also be some aspect of God we are learning about – like grace or abundance. These lessons stretch our faith and trust capacity.
Challenging times invite us to ask a new question, “What am I supposed to learn?” Answers could come during listening prayer, or later Once asked, pay attention to themes in your devotion time, topics of sermons and how they relate to your situation, and to the characters that you are reading about in the Bible in your personal Bible Study. God uses these common practices to unveil answers to our questions.
People going through leadership issues often find themselves studying Nehemiah. I recently heard a sermon on Jonah titled with a reminder that “Change is possible.” Joshua and David battle stories fuel us with courage for challenging times. The apostle Paul offers examples of boldness, adventure, tenacity, and perseverance through adversity. God is not limited to characters in the Bible. He may use the story of a modern day businessman who shows integrity. He may use the conversation of a friend who shares what she is learning in life or learned from her Bible Study. Second hand lesson points count. God will get his point across when we ask with a sincere heart.
In pondering a Bible story that seems hopelessly ancient and unrelated, keep asking God if there is anything in the story that relates to our situation. Some people may get a disturbing dream and toss it aside. Again, ask God if and how the dream relates to the current situation. Before writing the dream off as a bad pizza dream, ask Him if there is a clue in the dream to a solution to the current day challenge. It all matters.
As God teaches us about some aspect of His character, we can ask Him how that relates to our situation. “God, I know you listen. I believe you hear my cry about this situation in my life. How does your grace work with this memo from headquarters in New York that impacts my work world? How can you love that person over there who gossips? How do I co-exist (let alone love) that person? God, how does your grace help me today when I am exhausted taking care of my autistic child? How does your grace meet me when my family member has hurt me so deeply?” Into each of these questions, look for answers. Even in the asking, growth unfolds. That’s why it is so important to keep the dialogue of prayer going. Look for, and allow answers from above.