And I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again
Mumford and Sons, The Cave
I love the Mumfords: apart from being great musicians their songs deal with really serious issues – like anger, failure, the law of sowing and reaping, adultery and death! This lyric has been so relevant for our situation, expressing my heart to try to protect my son from the threat on his life – the ‘noose around his neck’ – and the desire to stand strong in the midst of the trial, resting in my identity as God’s dearly loved child. I often sing it as a prayer and declaration.
I wrote about hope in mid-October. Its a theme we have to keep coming back to on a journey like this: it is a choice to keep holding on to it. The pit is always there, the negative, the doom and gloom… for all of us in life, really. Is our glass half-full or half-empty? But when faced with something that seems inevitable, despair crouches at the door daily. It is often related to physical pain, as a result of stress and tiredness… or just as easily little disappointments, discouragement, fear and loneliness will drag us down. “He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust” Psalm 103v14. In our weakness we often need help, from the Lord and also from others: we need our eyes lifted and our arms held up to keep that positive perspective…
“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings – because we know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5v2-5
Hope is reliable, because He loves us – because we know He loves us. But this is a quality that is developed through suffering! This is some kind of spiritual magic, working against all the odds. Where there should be despair we can have the opposite when we allow perseverance to do its work in our character, when we hold on hope, when we continue to trust and patiently walk it through... That is deep stuff and not very easy. ‘Perseverance must finish its work’ James 1v4 – but I wish it would hurry up! I really need to make friends with Percy Verance: he is my brother and mentor 😉 Somehow through this suffering process my character is being forged and matured – and hope is the fruit produced. Maybe as I begin to see that from the eternal perspective I will actually be able to rejoice in this process!
And its true that hope is only needed when a situation is hope-less! We don’t hope for something we already have. Jeremiah put it well in his lament: “I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, ‘My splendour is gone, and all that I had hoped from the Lord’. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail…. the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” Lamentations 3v17-22, 25
The weeping prophet has lost all his hope – yet that is the very place where he finds it again, in the steadfast love and mercy of the Lord. Perhaps sometimes the things we hope for are based on our own ideas and expectations, rather than such a sure foundation: but those who hope in the Lord will never be disappointed. Hope, along with faith and love, has an eternal quality (1 Corinthians 13v13) – it leads us by the hand into glory, like the little girl with the balloon. It is something very real and solid, because it is based on a Rock, Who is eternal love and goodness and cannot fail.
The battle has to be won in our thoughts. We can ‘well remember’ all our bitterness – or we can choose to ‘call to mind’ the steadfast love of the Lord. The task is to seek Him, to wait for Him, to focus our attention, to hear our name being called – ‘the upward call of God in Christ’. Gratitude is such a big key here, the power in a sacrifice of thanksgiving that opens up the way for God’s salvation to be revealed (Psalm 50v23)
‘May the God of all hope fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’. Romans 15v13.
Hold on Hope!