I love living in Michigan. I love the trees, the lake and I especially love the people. I even love the ever-changing climate. I never tire of watching spring turn into summer and delight when the fall comes with its promise of winter to follow. Spring was lovely this year as March brought surprisingly warm weather that encouraged the flowers to sprout and the leaves to fill the trees. Then came a hot, dry summer that seemed to go on forever, but eventually the rains came and refreshed the earth again. We are now enjoying the glory of God’s creative use of color as fall surrounds us. The evenings are getting nippier causing us to look forward to a beautiful winter. Each season has something delightful to offer as well as inconveniences. Yet the ebb and flow of the ever-changing seasons fill me with excitement and anticipation for each new beginning. All I have to do is wait a few months (sometimes only days) and there will be something new to enjoy and celebrate.
I can’t help but reflect how life echoes the change of seasons. Like nature, it is never static. We move from times of fresh, new, exciting events to long, hot, dry spells where we crave relief and refreshing rains. Other times we revel in the glory of God around us or withdraw into the warmth of our inner-selves to get out of the cold world. Time seems to fly by as we celebrate the good times with hope and joy. But when we struggle with the difficult seasons of life, time seems to crawl. Feelings of discouragement, disappointment, grief, or a myriad of other challenging emotions sap us of our strength and of our hope. However, I have discovered that it is during these more strenuous times that hope is exactly what we need to choose to do. Yet just sitting there and having hope when life is seems to be falling down around you can feel like a “cop-out.” We think we need to do something more to get through the worry and dismay.
I learned something new about hope this weekend from our pastor, Dr. Duane Kelderman. His sermon, “Put Your Hope in God,” was based on Psalm 42 and 43. In reference to the command that the psalmist gave himself (“Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42: 5b and 11b), Dr. Kelderman said, “Literally he says, ‘Wait on God.’ That’s what the Hebrew word for ‘hope’ literally means: wait. And when it’s God you’re waiting on, that’s not a defeat. Because when it’s God you’re waiting on, you wait with confidence, with certainty. In the divine mathematics, waiting plus certainty equals hope.”
Did you hear that? Hope is waiting on God with certainty that He will answer and He will act. It is choosing to let go of our need for validation, affirmation, revenge, justice, or whatever is plaguing us and choose to trust God’s sovereignty, His will for our lives, His ability to make all things work together for our good. In my case, it also included choosing to let God be enough. I need to wait on Him and place my hope in the certainty that His relationship with me and His love for me is all I really need. It’s in this place of waiting that I find great comfort and my hope is renewed. The key is to hope IN GOD!
We all go through times of discouragement – just like the psalmist. During those times it is so easy to dwell on the reasons for our feelings or the feelings themselves. When that happens we can learn a lesson from the psalmist and openly and honestly share our doubts, pain, confusion, sorrow, and other negative feelings with the One who understands. But we must not allow ourselves to wallow in our distress because discouragement when left unchecked can lead to depression and abandonment. Like the psalmist, we need to choose to put our hope in God – to wait on Him. As you wait, find hope in God’s faithfulness in your life so far. Let that hope help you identify reasons to thank and praise Him for the blessings He lavishes on you. In hope and certainty, trust in His providential care of you now and in the future. This season of discouragement will pass – just as surely as spring follows winter and summer gives way to fall, God will be there to uphold you with His righteous right hand.
So come, my friends, join me as we rest and wait because we choose to have hope in God. Let’s proclaim with the Psalmist, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and My God.”