Thanksgiving—the time of year when all of us take stock of our blessings. Each year I become increasingly more thankful for family, health, and God’s provision. While I continue to be grateful for these things, this year feels different. Like many of you, I have been alone with my thoughts a bit more lately. Many of the distractions we typically experience due to busyness have been removed, allowing us time to be more introspective. My quiet time with the Lord has been sweeter, my discussions deeper, and my convictions sharper. For this I am thankful. As I think about Thanksgiving, the one word that keeps coming to my mind is “hope.” This year, more than ever, I am deeply thankful for hope.
While the world often defines hope as “a wish” (e.g., “I hope it happens”), Biblical hope is not wishful thinking. It is a confident expectation in what God has promised. There is certainty in Biblical hope. When our hope is in Christ we can let go of despair, fear, and self-control, knowing that God is faithful to do what He says He will do.
John Piper calls Biblical hope an “emotional reservoir.” (1) This reservoir can serve us in so many ways.
· When we experience a setback while working with a challenging student, we can dip into the emotional reservoir of hope to stay the course and not give up.
· When someone is hateful to us, we can dip into the emotional reservoir of hope to respond with grace instead of anger.
· When we face temptation, we can dip into the emotional reservoir of hope to resist our own desires and be obedient to God’s Word.
Just like a reservoir of water is used to store water for times of need, hope is what sustains us when we have nothing left in the tank and our own efforts prove futile. As Christians, our hope is confident and sure. Our hope expects great things from God!
So many around us today have lost hope. The isolation and trauma of the last nine months have left people’s emotional reservoir empty. How do I know? Just look in the eyes of those around you. Sad eyes. You know what they look like. Every teacher has seen them.
Years ago I had the opportunity to work with a school in the Northeast. I arrived early and was waiting in the office when two sisters around the ages of five and six entered and sat down. Having been in education so long, I am pretty good at reading children. I could tell there was something wrong. I turned to smile at them and say hello.
That is when I noticed their eyes. Sad eyes, eyes void of hope. It sent a pain through my heart and I will never forget it. I had never seen children that young appear so despondent. I remember thinking how most young children are full of curiosity and wonder—full of hope. It pained me to think of what had caused those sad eyes. I really don’t know. Whatever the cause, when we lose hope, we lose everything.
No matter what has transpired over the last nine months, I have not lost my hope. Why? Because my hope is not in my circumstances, my finances, my family, or my health. My hope is rooted in the person Jesus Christ. When feelings of hopelessness set in, we have to hold onto what we know to be true. Apparently, the Christians in Rome needed reminded of this, too!
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
So what is true? God is our source of hope. When we put our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, and we are filled with hope! We don’t have to conjure up hope on our own. We have it when we have Jesus! We know without question (confident assurance) that God is in control. I am so incredibly thankful for hope!
Honestly, though, we all go through moments where our feelings get the best of us. It’s during those times we should heed these words by John Piper. “My feelings are not God. God is good. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth.”
When we have one of these hopeless moments—and we all do—here are two quick actions we can take.
1. Remember what we have been given. Not only have we all benefited from immeasurable blessings, if you are a believer, you have received the best gift of all—Jesus. With Jesus comes God’s covering (John 10:30). This should give us hope!
2. Seek encouragement from God’s Word. God’s Word is truth and is full of His promises. For starters, He says repeatedly in scripture, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5-6, Genesis 28:15, Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10-13).
We can live a life full of hope and victory when we hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23
What am I most thankful for this year? HOPE!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May God fill your heart with hope!