– By John Crotts, Faith Bible Church
It is right to marvel in God as an awesome source of hope.
God has all power. He can switch your entire world around overnight. Some well-meaning people will offer you comfort, but they really can’t do anything to stop your pain. That is never the case with God – he can change things.
God also knows everything. He knows the painful experiences that you are suffering. He knows your capacity to suffer without sinning. He knows all kinds of ways to maximize the benefits of your circumstances to make you more like Jesus. He knows just what you need to make it through the toughest times.
God also cares deeply about you. God is not like a machine, crunching computations about people in a generic way. He reveals himself in the Bible as having a personal knowledge and concern for each one of his creatures. God’s heart of loving concern includes you.
It really is marvelous that such a mighty God is available to you as a source of hope. As your eyes are filled with stubborn trials, your hope is not limited to your best ideas about how to fix things. Your hope is never restricted to your best efforts to tolerate enduring pain. Your situation is not like being on a deserted island wishing someone, somewhere could help you. Your hope can be as vast and strong as the living God.
But, the mere knowledge that you can have God as an awesome supply of life-sustaining hope is not even the whole story. Let your heart be even more encouraged by the awareness that God delights in those who put their hope in him.
After the incredible power of God is celebrated in Psalm 147, the heart of God is revealed. “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Ps 147:10-11).
Sufferers sometimes wonder how they can even make it through the day. God says, “Put your hope in me. Put your hope in my unfailing love.” God isn’t impressed with sufferers who think they can marshal the human resources to help them survive. God is impressed, however, with the one who turns to him for help.
God has more resources than the entire universe. God made it all and sustains it all. The very same psalm that declares God’s delight in the one who hopes in him also powerfully celebrates God’s mighty power. “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Ps 147:4-5).
“He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry” (Ps 147:8-9).
“For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow” (Ps 147:13-18).
Because God owns such remarkable resources, he isn’t impressed with resourceful people. If you have a million dollars in your briefcase, a man dancing around because he found a quarter on the street won’t capture much of your attention. In that comparison, God has much more than a mere million dollars. And even the quarter you found ultimately comes from his bounty.
God likes it when his creatures recognize their neediness, and then look to him for support. Pain and emptiness gets our attention in ways that full cupboards and brimming bank accounts rarely do. Although we ought not wish for trials for ourselves and those we love, we have to acknowledge that it is usually the trying times of our lives that God has used for our greatest growth.
Pain puts our priorities into perspective. Our hope must rest in our powerful God. Of course, we can utilize human resources to alleviate our pain when possible, but even then we do it for God’s sake, recognizing that any relief we receive comes ultimately from God. The farmers plant their seeds, but ultimately God fills the city with the finest of wheat.
How can it be that God could actually take pleasure in those who fear him and hope in his steadfast love (Ps 147:11)? Those experiencing painful trials often acknowledge that their best hope efforts are mixed with worry, self-pity and unbelieving thoughts, attitudes and words. Perhaps God could be theoretically happy with a Christian who always puts pure hopes in him, but no one actually qualifies. Maybe such a verse only exists to remind those in trials of their unworthiness, and points them to their Savior, so at least they can be forgiven failures.
I don’t think so. While it is true that all people sin and fall short of God’s perfection standards to be in a right relationship with him (Rom 3:23), after one trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, he or she is declared righteous and adopted into God’s family (Rom 6:23; 8:14-17).
When a human son or daughter offers his or her efforts to honor their parents, moms and dads are not holding magnifying glasses scrutinizing behavior and attitudes for imperfections in order to condemn their kids. Just as earthly fathers love their children and are pleased with imperfect efforts to obey, so God is very pleased when his children try to respect him and hope in him.
He is mindful that we are but dust (Ps 103:14). He knows all about the temptations and trials of living in a fallen world. The Lord Jesus endured so much temptation – some of it directly from the devil himself, that the Bible says Jesus completely understands and relates to every one of our difficulties (Heb 4:15). He chooses to be pleased with those who look to him with hopeful hearts.
Do you want to make God himself happy? You can – even in your enduring hardship. Stop staring at your painful circumstances. Stop wishfully counting on your inadequate human helpers. Look to God. He has the power, knowledge, and concern to get you through this hard day. He wants you to look to him. He has, no doubt, at least in part designed this tough time for you in order for you to draw closer to him.
God is waiting right now to take special delight in your efforts to hope in him. Will you put your hope in his steadfast love right now?