A Teaching Series on Hope  -  Part Four 

I shared yesterday that patience is a big part of hope.  I see patience as being in the "present" tense, for the moment.  When hope goes on for a long time, I believe enduring becomes part of hope.  It's a step further than patience.  It's for the long haul.  Hope seeks to endure when the answer takes a long time.  I'm in that enduring phase - as I'm sure many of you are too.

Job was a man who went through many trials.  He struggled to endure.  "My hope has been pulled down like a tree."  Job 19:10.  He felt like his hope was gone.

But hope doesn't give up or give in!  In this day of "instant" everything, we often know little about enduring.  I heard about a man who was having some photos printed, and he was complaining that "one hour photos" was too long.

An optimist (one who has hope) sees an opportunity in every calamity.  A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.  Sometimes we need to refocus our way of looking at things!

God goes to great lengths to teach us endurance because He knows how important it is for us.  He uses every season we're in - not only for the present situation, but to prepare for the next season.  He stretches us.  He grows us.  

I've shared before how I can see that God used each hard season in my life to teach me valuable lessons that prepared me for something that was coming a little further down the road.  I'm so grateful for that preparation.  It is proving invaluable on this current unexpected journey.

I had a conversation with Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, when he was near the end of his life.  I asked him what was one of the most valuable lessons he had learned through the years.  Without hesitating, he replied, "90% of success is simply enduring!"  He said that God will help us, but we have to choose to endure through the hard times.  We can't give up.

David understood this.  In the Psalms, in the midst of difficulties, he said again and again "hope in God for I shall again praise Him."  He endured through the hard times with his eyes on God.

We can endure and keep hope alive, or we can let it die.  We can give up.  Thankfulness and worship are big keys to enduring.  That's a whole other lesson I'm learning - but so important to remember.  As we worship God, the strength and grace flows to be able to make it through.  It's another one of those "tools" that God has given us.

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter.  He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is working something good."  Romans 8:26-28  The Message

I've had lots of sighs, groans - lots of moments when I couldn't find the right words to pray what was in my heart.  I'm thankful God has still heard me as I've endured on this journey.

"We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized."  Hebrews 6:11

God has answers for me, for Floyd, for you - but He may ask us to endure with hope.  I'll keep trusting Him as I endure.

I feel like I've only scratched the surface of what has been going on in my heart regarding hope, but I've saved the best for last!  Hope includes encouragement!  Definitely one of my favorites.  I love encouragement - both to give it and to receive it.

Hope is all wrapped up around encouragement!  God wants us to be people of hope so we can be ministers of hope.  As we encourage one another, it builds hope.

Jeremiah 31:17 tells us "there is hope for your future!"  We need to encourage one another with that wonderful promise of hope.

I've mentioned that I love to hear Floyd preach.  I think he's one of the best. :)  It always surprised me when I'd heard him preach an awesome message, and then when we'd get home, he'd shyly ask me - "Was it okay?  How'd I do?"  It's made me realize that we all need encouragement!  

The Father even affirmed and encouraged the Son when the Spirit descended as a dove from heaven and God said "this is my Son in whom I am well pleased."

As we journey through life, we need the encouragement of one another.  God's made us that way!  It's one of the ways He wants our lives to be interwoven.  We need to keep hope alive in our own hearts so that we can pour out that encouragement to those around us.

A person can endure and survive the most horrendous of situations when they have encouragement that kindles hope.  We live in a world filled with difficulty and despair - lots of hopelessness in people's lives.  God wants to use us to encourage through hope.  Hope helps us trust and believe that there will be change for the better.

If you're practical like me, you're already wondering how to do what I'm talking about.  It's simple.  We can share words or acts of encouragement.  We can believe in people and instill faith and confidence in them.  We can reach out to those around us in times of disappointment, failure, and grief.  We can pray to get an encouraging "word" from the Lord for those in need.  We can share testimonies of God's faithfulness and goodness - that always spreads hope!  The possibilities are endless.  God will give us lots of creative ways to encourage and build hope.

It surprised me, although it shouldn't have, that in some of the very hard days when Floyd was in ICU and we didn't know if he'd make it - God allowed me to encourage some of the other families that were there with their loved ones.  A simple word of God's love and encouragement ministered hope to others who were in distress.  One time, all I did was put my arm around a wife and cry with her.  I didn't know what to say, but I told her I was sorry and prayed for her.

Hope looks for the good in people, instead of pointing out the worst.

Hope opens doors when despair is trying to close them.

Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot.

Hope regards obstacles and problems as opportunities.

Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit - it doesn't give up!

Hope "lights a candle" instead of "cursing the darkness."

I am so grateful that God has been stirring hope afresh in my heart.  I feel energized by all that He has been speaking into the depths of my soul.  I love Psalm 71:5 - "you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth."  He'll continue to be with me and be my hope in my "old days" too!

We can have hope in our hearts today that is:

·      rooted in Him and who He is

·      expecting Him to answer

·      growing as we spend time in prayer

·      keeping our spirits joyful

·      being patient while we wait on His answers

·      choosing to endure 

·      endeavoring to give and receive encouragement

I'm asking Him to help me keep hope alive for all the things He has in store for Floyd, for me, and for our family.