by Bob Dees
I would often stand in front of weary and pressed Ranger students after a few weeks of excruciating training.
“OK, Men… you are starting to look different. I think I’m starting to see a little shine. A little pressure, a little heat, and I see diamonds forming before my very eyes. Hang in there, Men — You will soon be one of those priceless Ranger diamonds, able to cut steel, reflecting character, garnering respect, able to “Lead the Way.”
I could see these Ranger students stand a little taller as they understood that their current hardships were forming their character, shaping their future. In essence, these Rangers had strong expectation – HOPE – that their training challenges were “light, momentary afflictions” which would result in the future they hoped for. In Ranger lingo, “pain is only weakness leaving the body.”
Romans 5:1-5 summarizes this dynamic well:
“Therefore, having been justified through faith, we have peace with god through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, HOPE; and HOPE does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
This HOPE which does not disappoint is similar to the term “vital optimism” used by author George McDonald in describing British doubt that they could regain national “vital optimism” after losing over 100,000 men in the Battle of the Somme in WWI. This sense of hopelessness is not unlike that felt by many Americans during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. He described this vital optimism as “a quality of spirit possessed by a community or a person where there is a persuasion that the best is yet to be… from such a spirit come increasing excitement, incentive, and the love of nobler purposes.” McDonald then equates vital optimism with HOPE: “the confident expectation that history is going somewhere and that God, our Creator and Redeemer, is powerfully directing it.”
Yes, the best is yet to come. An expectation, an assurance of God’s noble purpose in our future, a confidence: “For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” This is HOPE.
Some of you who have lost so much may say “Get Real! How can I be hopeful when the ongoing pandemic (or some other life crisis) has taken some of my loved ones, has destroyed my financial future, has threatened my own health, and has drastically disrupted life as I knew it?” This is a valid question, but one with good answers from God’s Word – “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE.” (Romans 15:4) Consider a few of the verses which encourage HOPE across a wide range of life challenges:
- As an antidote to despair and loss, consider David in Psalm 42:15: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? HOPE in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
- As a source of strength and courage, David in Psalm 31:24: “Be Strong and let your heart take Courage, all you who HOPE in the Lord.”
- As a consolation in the midst of pain, Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs 13:12: “HOPE deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a Tree of Life.”
- As an anchor of the soul which keeps us sure and steadfast, Hebrews 6:18b,19a: “…we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the HOPE set before us. This HOPE we have as an anchor of the soul, a HOPE both sure and steadfast…”
In the midst of pain, suffering, uncertainty, and loss; the verses above become even more real and relevant. I personally can’t understand the challenges or hurt you may be facing, but God does. This understanding and compassionate God is the true source of HOPE, the One who truly allows you and me to persevere, to be encouraged, and to encourage others. “Draw nigh unto him, and He will draw nigh unto you” – with HOPE.
Let me conclude with a transition from HOPE about complications in this present life to HOPE about things eternal.
Have you ever seen the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC? It is truly amazing – considered the most valuable diamond in the world, 45.52 carats, an estimated value of $250 million dollars, a purple/violet hue, and it glows with red phosphorescence when exposed to ultraviolet light – a truly amazing piece of God’s Creation, beauty derived from common matter put under intense heat and pressure.
If you have visited the Hope Diamond, you may also know that the “Hope Diamond” was not named after the quality of hope, rather after the British gentleman who owned it in the 1800s. Apart from being an optimistic symbol of expectation, there has actually been much intrigue and tragedy surrounding the Hope Diamond over the years, highlighting man’s (and woman’s greed), bringing out the worst in them.
Gratefully, there is actually another Hope Diamond which brings out the very best in each of us. This Hope Diamond is referred to by Max Lucado in his book: 3:16, The Numbers of Hope. It goes like this:
Of course, I am talking about John 3:16:
- a twenty-six word parade of HOPE,
- beginning with God, ending with life.
- He loves and He gave
- we believe and we live
This is true hope… the hope that does not depend on outward circumstances, but rather the inner condition of the heart and the reality of the eternal “hope and future” that God promises to those who follow Jesus.
This is the real Hope Diamond that we need!
This is the precious jewel that we already have!
We have HOPE in the present, and HOPE for the future – eternally.
My final prayer for you… and for me:
“Now may the God of HOPE
fill you will all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit”
May we all abide and abound in HOPE… the real Hope Diamond…which is truly priceless!
So what about YOU?
How is your “Hope Quotient?” Do you need to lean into God’s Word
for perseverance and encouragement?
True Christian HOPE is a certainty. How certain are you?
How can you be a “Merchant of Hope” for others?
Share with us in COMMENTS below.