By Roxanne Drury
The title of this article – “The encouragement of hope” – sounds like it might be a romance novel. But it’s not. I hope you are not disappointed. No pun intended. It is, however, a love story of sorts.
Hope has been defined by some as believing that something good can come out of something bad. Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” Sometimes things happen in our lives that break our hearts or steal our joy. In those moments it is so easy for us to forget God’s promises or that God has a hand in every part of our lives. Think about it for a second. God had a part in every moment of Jesus’ life, too.
But let’s redirect and take a look at the disciples for just a moment. When Jesus died, it must have seemed to them that it was all over. Jesus was dead and buried. The end. The disciples were sad and afraid because He was gone. Perhaps Jesus’ followers forgot what He had said in Matthew 17:22-23: “…The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life…” He was kind of saying, “Hey, it’s okay, I am going to die, but don’t worry, I’ll be back.” I think this was Jesus’ way of giving them hope that all was not lost. Good was going to come out of something that seemed really, really bad. Why did Jesus give them this hope? I think maybe it was because He loved them. He didn’t want them hurting.
Well, unfortunately, we don’t have Jesus face to face telling us that something bad is going to happen. Or saying to us, ‘but don’t worry, God has a plan and good will come out of it.’ I think that’s part of why it is so easy for us to forget that God is in it – all of it – whatever it is. But wait. It is true, we don’t have the real live Jesus to give us words of hope, but we do have the words in the Bible. John 16:33b tells us, “…In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” There it is. You will have trouble, bad things, and tough things are going to happen. Next come the hope words. Ready for them?
But take heart.
God’s got a plan and His plan is for good.
These words give US hope! And hope is a gift! Just like the words Jesus spoke to the disciples, these are words of love, words of encouragement – the encouragement of hope.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). We can have hope because no matter what happens, we know that God has His hand in every part of every single thing in our lives. We can have hope because God is faithful and we can trust Him. We can have hope because God made a way for us to live with Him forever. We can have hope because we know that Jesus will come back again one day. We can have hope because Jesus is at this very moment preparing a place for us called heaven.
Jesus comforted His disciples with these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). Those same words are for us as well. Out of love for all mankind – that includes you and me – God made a way for us to have hope every day of our lives to the end. We just need to grab it and hold on tight.
I read somewhere that “Hope redefines what is probable and opens the paths to the impossible.” Hope keeps the doors open to what can happen when things seem bad.
In the good things and the not-so-good things in your life, you can have the encouragement of hope that God is in it, God has a plan, and His plan is for good. Believe it!
Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher with a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. She has served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 40 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church.