Get your h o p e s up.
"...with joy let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance of eternal salvation. Such hope in God’s promises never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 2:3-5
I've been listening to this song called "Get Your Hopes" up, for the past few weeks. I really like it, it's positive and up beat. I want to believe the things that it declares, but I will admit that there is a part of me that always says in the back of my mind, "Being hopeful is good, but I have to be realistic. The chances of ... happening are really unlikely."
There is this innate thing with in me that says "I won't get my hopes up too much, because then if it doesn't happen, or it doesn't work out, or I never get delivered from this problem, I won't be too disappointed."
I had an off week. I felt distant from God. Tired. Discouraged. Fed up. Maybe even a bit hopeless.
Yesterday as I was "having it out" with God, I felt Him leading me to scripture and YouTube clips that had to do with being steadfast. Building a history with Him. Remaining hopeful and faithful in the midst of unanswered prayers, and questions.
I felt this passage in Romans breath life into me, and then it reminded me of James 1.
"Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith, through experience, produces endurance leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed in your faith, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
In hindsight, I can see the Lords hand in my life, working this verse out. Often someone who would rather run from a problem, than wait for a solution - believing that I just wasn't important enough to Him to experience peace, or answered prayer - time and time again, I come back to this verse.
We don't just wake up mature in the Lord. No matter how many bible verses we memorize as a child, or sermons we take in, the developing of our faith - the kind that leaves us lacking nothing - comes from pain, trials, discomfort, pressure, experience.
If we don't run.
Throw our hands in the air, and resolve that doing it our own way is better.
The promise of James 1 is that we will lack nothing, if we don't stop. That our patient endurance comes from experience. And this will lead us to a maturity in Him. The kind that builds a history with God.
And the result is that we learn to remain in this state of unwavering hope, time and time again, because we know, through our own experience, that it never disappoints.
Because He never disappoints.
When we remember this truth, there is no falling into the slump of "what if He doesn't come through." or "I won't get my hopes up, just in case."
It's time to get your hopes up.
Covering hope with a safety net isn't necessary, because it doesn't fail. It doesn't disappoint.
Strength and wisdom in the kingdom looks foolish to the world. Naturally, our mind wants to say "don't get too positive, don't get too hopeful, because if it doesn't come to pass, I can say I was prepared for the outcome."
Pride tells us that we need to remain cautiously optimistic, because the chances of something bad happening are greater than the chances of something good happening. And it's best to be prepared for the worst.
When your mind takes you to worry, for the places that the Lord has already spoken for, remind yourself of the promise of Romans 5:
Problems require patience endurance.
Patient endurance produces proven character, and hope.
Hope never disappoints.
Over and over again.
If He hasn't brought the answer to your problem, keep enduring. Sometimes the answer is a deeper level of maturity, something you didn't even know you needed.
There is no room for "I told you so's." Or "I figured it wouldn't work out". His Hope never disappoints.
This is the beauty of remaining hopeful in the Lord: He is faithful to answer, and the more we remain patient, and endure the race, the more we see His goodness. It develops our relationship with Him, and it allows us to look back, when we face another hardship, and remember what He brought us through before. That is more valuable than any deliverance, or timely word.
Let your guard down.
Get your hopes up.