This article was written as a response for one of the earlier studies posted by the founder of this blog, Trev Francis, that is centred around elucidating the passage of Romans 8: 18-26 to all of us, and this is the fourth part. https://onwardswearychristian.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/part-4-hope-unseen/
In it, Trev discusses how in our hope in God is unseen, and the reasons He has given us for hope as mentioned in Romans 8: 22-23, which is so good I will quote it again myself;
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is not seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Upon rereading Part 4: Hope Unseen (yet again) I realised another truth. Since Trev mentions that the word ‘hope’ at its very core, implies a definite certainty in expecting that something will happen, and at the end he encourages us to delve into the bible and look for the promises that God has given that we have ‘wait in certain expectancy for’ and it caused me to realise that a “promise” is just as unseen as a hope, or more rather, promise and hope are tangential to each other. A promise given is assurance for hope. And when that promise is given by God then that hope is very very exciting, and I have been learning that recently.
I took to heart Trev’s encouragement at the end of Part 4: Hope Unseen to delve into our Bibles and seek out the promises of God, to discover how much we have to hope for and get excited about. After ruminating over this for several days (the idea of doing so had intrigued me the moment I had read about it) and so, yesterday morning I retrieved a notebook originally given to me as a present for my tenth birthday many years ago, and sat down on my bed crosslegged, Bible in hand. By midmorning I had found so many gems of promises, so many certainties for hope that I had gotten quite excited, as I had gone from the Old Testament to the New Testament fore and aft several times, and had reached up to three full pages of notes achieved from transcribing the verses, and there’s still more to find! As of today, I have added my fourth/fifth page of verses, but right now I want to show you the promises I have discovered anew, starting in Jeremiah and Lamentations, two books some might think unlikely to have any promises worth hope hoping in.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11 (ESV)
This was the first verse I remembered and stumbled back upon, and it is definitely a promise we can hold to – hope for – with assurance. This verse’s promise is that God has a defined way that he is leading is, and that he all of his plans for us – no matter how at times we smear them as being evil – are in fact for our wholeness. (Although, admittedly, it is hard to see whilst we are living in the midst of those hard times.)
The next verse I discovered again comes from Jeremiah’s second book, Lamentations.
The steadfast love of the Lord (hesed in the Hebrew) never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
According to my pastor, Hesed is the Hebrew word for “loyalty motivates by love”, another hope-filled phrase for us, since it confirms for us that God’s hesed proves that he will never leave us, he will never let us go, and that no matter how far we may run from him, his loyalty that motivates love ensures that he will be at our heels like the “Hound of Heaven,”(imagery from the poem by Francis Thompson) and that because of his utter loyalty to us, we can know that he is our portion, and have every reason, therefore, for hoping in him. This word is notoriously difficult to translate into English, most times it occurs in English texts as “mercies” or “loving-kindness”, but this is the truest, and most accurate translation.
One thing I immediately noticed and was drawn to was that the most amazing promises God “sends forth” (the etymology of ‘promise’) is that many of them originate in moments when the people of Israel were undergoing the crucible of severe trials brought about many times by God to cause them to run back to his embrace, glorifying his love, but through it all, like a bright red thread in a tapestry that stands out most prominently, God remains with them through it all. His promises were their hopes. And now they are ours.
Further along in the first Lamentations verse quoted above follows this one:
For the Lord will not cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love (hesed again);
for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.
Lamentations 3: 31
Has anyone else noticed that parts of Lamentations appear to read almost poetically? Just rereading this nearly caused me to cry, it’s so beautiful and since the realisation gradually hits that God is moved by the pain he sees us experience and the knowledge that he is reluctant to afflict any on of the children of men because He.LOVES.us. More than we can ever, ever truly comprehend.
And guess what? These are only the first of the promises of God that have delved into to hold close to, to hope in, and there’s more to come and I’m so excited for it! These that I’ve mentioned already are only mere verses of Hope and Promise, yet there’s more! There’s whole passages full of hope and promise, and God willing, I will be able to discuss them soon!
God bless you all.