How can we have hope when our circumstances are unpredictable and seemingly hopeless? How can we have hope when we are in the midst of the pandemic?
Hope is one of the greatest virtues, together with love and faith (1 Corinthians 13:13). As Raniero Cantalamessa writes, ‘They are like three sisters. Two of them are grown and the other is a small child. They go forward together hand in hand with the child hope in the middle. Looking at them it would seem that the bigger ones are pulling the child, but it is the other way around; it is the little girl who is pulling the two bigger ones. It is hope that pulls faith and love. Without hope everything would stop.’
Hope helps us to move forward. Hope helps us to face impossible challenges. Hope is like the light at the end of a dark tunnel. We can move forward even in the darkness because of the hope we have.
During this pandemic, we often heard preachers and pastors telling us not to “waste this pandemic”, meaning that we are to use this time of the lockdown to reflect about our lives, be intentional about spending time with God and letting God shape us and transform us from the inside out so that we will be better people than before. In order to do so, we need to know the hope that we have in God.
Let’s look at Psalm 89, a maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite and let us learn to put our hope in Him.
Hope in God in our sufferings and despair
The psalmist cries out to the Lord “How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?” (verse 46, NIV). When the psalmist was writing this, he had his own challenges to deal with. His circumstances were different. But this verse expresses what we are feeling now. We feel that God is hiding Himself as the peoples of this world are suffering.
God is always there. We can not see Him with our eyes but He is with us. He is faithful. He loves us with a great love. The psalmist says, “1 I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. 2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself” (verses 1-2).
There is hope in our sufferings because of who God is. He is love. He is faithful. He will carry us through.
Hope in spite of our short life span and the inevitability of death
Life is short—“your life is like the morning fog- it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14. NLT). The psalmist also prays to God, “47 Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all humanity! Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?” (verse 24, NIV)
The psalmist says despite our life being short and that we will face death someday, yet, he holds on to the promise of God’s love. He prays, “Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David?” (verse 49). We will pass away; it is inevitable. But, as the story unfolds in the New Testament, believers will have eternal life through Jesus Christ, who took our sins upon Himself and died on the Cross for us. We have eternal life through Jesus Christ. Our life is more than life on earth. We have hope that we will have eternal life with God in Heaven forever.
Hope in God’s righteousness and justness
The world is unjust. The evil and power-hungry people seem to be crushing the innocent. But the psalmist puts his hope in God who is righteous and just. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.” (verse 14-15, NIV)
Even when what is going on does not make sense to you, trust in God’s righteousness, love and faithfulness.
Hope in the presence of God
Those who walk with God (following His ways and commandments) will be blessed. They are walking in the light of the presence of God (verse 15). They will rejoice in God and celebrate God’s righteousness because God is their glory and strength (verses 16-17).
When all else fail, by walking with God, we will taste His presence and we even rejoice in the midst of difficulties because God is with us.
We have hope because God is with us.
Hope in God’s purpose
It seems funny and even a little rude for me to tell you about finding the good in our present situation. I don’t know what you are going through. You may be grieving over the loss of a loved one, you may be facing stressful times at home, you may be out of a job or you may be struggling financially. But let us lift up our eyes from the current situations to God.
This psalm reminds us that God is faithful. He loves us with a faithful love (verse 24). There is no powers or authority higher than that of God’s (vv 5-13). He alone is in control. He created the heavens and the earth (v 11) and everything belongs to Him. There is a purpose for everything He does. We can trust in His timing to work things out for the best according to His infinite love and wisdom.
Ezra, the psalmist, ends this psalm by asking God to remember him. The psalmist clings onto the hope he has in God. Ezra then praises God, “praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen!” (verse 52, NIV). There are always reasons to praise Him. He is sovereign, He is in control, His wisdom is beyond our comprehension and He loves us with a faithful love.
Let us put our hope in God.