Everywhere we look there’s a lack of hope today. This is especially true as we approach the upcoming election.
There was even recently a satirical piece going around the internet urging US voters to write in the Queen of England on the ballot for President of the United States. It says:
“In an unexpected televised address, Queen Elizabeth II offered to restore British rule over the United States of America. Addressing the American people from her office in Buckingham Palace, the Queen said that she was making the offer “in recognition of the desperate situation you now find yourselves in.” This two-hundred-and-forty-year experiment in self-rule began with the best of intentions, but I think we can all agree that it didn’t end well,” she said.”
Clearly this is just a hoax, but it expresses the lack of hope that we are feeling today.
In Psalm 42 we find someone who was spiritually dry, facing a drought and expressing his thirst. Someone who was without hope. We read in verses 1-5*:
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
The Psalmist is expressing his longing to return to God’s presence in the sanctuary. In the last verse his soul is arguing, preaching to himself “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” And look at his answer to his question: “Hope in God!”
Hoping in God does not come naturally to us, because we’re all sinful. We must remind ourselves of this, or else we will have a downcast spirit.
Hope is a reservoir of emotional strength.
John Piper wrote that ordinarily, when we express hope, we are expressing uncertainty.
“I hope I pass this class,” means I don’t have any certainty that I’ll pass this class, I desire to pass. “Our hope is that Steve will arrive safely,” means we don’t know if he will or not, but that’s our desire. “A good President is our only hope for turning the country around” means a good president could bring us to our desired goal, but we can’t be sure we will get one.
However, the Biblical meaning of hope is different. The most important aspect of biblical hope is not in any of these ordinary uses, and is almost the opposite. Biblical hope expresses certainty in God and his promises. It is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.
Hope in God is a reservoir of emotional strength!
The second half of Psalm 42 continues in verse 6 and ends with an identical refrain:
“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually,“Where is your God?”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,my salvation and my God.”
The Psalmist is temporarily expressing confidence in the Lord in spite of the storms all around him. Yet, in the reality of the situation, God still seems distant. Others around him taunt and express no confidence in God. Yet in the final verse just as before, he is again speaking to himself “Hope in God!” Hope is a reservoir of emotional strength.
Is your reservoir of strength your Hope in God, or are you drawing on something less, something that ultimately will not satisfy?
Jesus is the only Hope for the world. Don’t forget this! And let’s share this hope with people who desperately need Him!
~ Pastor Bob Snider, Holbrook Campus Pastor
If you would like to hear the complete message called “Hope!” you can find it HERE.
*Scripture is from the ESV