"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" -- Lamentations 3: 24 (NKJV)
Where is our hope today? I know the pat answer in Christian circles is to reflexively respond Jesus but really"deep down"where is our hope today? When the doctor report comes back with bad news -- where is our hope? When the job lays us off after 20 years of loyalty -- where is our hope? When our kid isn't home and it is past midnight -- where is our hope? It is easy to scream hallelujah the Lord is my hope on Sundays at church but it becomes a real test of faith to do the same thing when you are walking through the valley and God seems far away. As spiritual as we might fancy ourselves there are always things competing for our hope.
The first thing competing for our hope is the world. The world will always offer up for us their set of values, their solutions to problems, their hopes and dreams. But as well dressed as they may be packaged when sold to us, they always end up empty at the end. If you place your hope in your job you may find yourself sorely disappointed when the downsizing hits. Too often believers define themselves by what they do for a living instead of by who they are in Christ. I love my job and thank God for it but I am a child of God first and foremost. My hope is in my God because while my job might let me down one day -- my God never will. Also in the world we see too many believers placing their hope in the financial morals of this world. We see people addicted to the lottery as their hope. We see people lose their life savings in the stock market, which is nothing more than legalized gambling. Pursuing the big payoff the world sells. You only need a dollar and a dream! Wrong. All I need is my God and He doesn't even charge me a dollar. Is money evil? Not according to the Bible:
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. -- 1Timothy 6: 10 (NLT)
It is not until it has crossed over into loving money that we start digging down into the roots of all kinds of evil. A dollar bill is not inherently evil but when you place your hope in that dollar it will lead you to evil. Even if your pursuit is successful that does not mean suddenly your hopes and dreams are fulfilled. It just means you are rich as the world measures wealth. How many stars have we seen die recently amidst miserable lives riddled with guilt, drugs, and abuse? They did not have a money problem -- they had a hope problem!
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. -- 1John 2: 15-17 (NLT)
Yet too often we see Christians placing their hope in the things of this world. Prescription medications, drug and alcohol abuse, chasing fame and fortune. You name it -- the world has it for you but in the end it is a hopeless vacuum. Why? Because as the verse from John points out, this world is fading away!
The next thing we wrongly place our hope in is other people. The world has sold us a bill of goods on love that is simply false and unbiblical. The result is women wait for their knight in shining armor to come sweep them off their feet and when that hope is not realized they become bitter within the very marriages God has blessed them with. Men wait for this superwoman scenario of someone who is able to be different people based upon what room of the house she is in. Another expectation that will never be met. Single Christians spend too much time bemoaning their condition and building up their hope in whoever their future mate will be. You will never find in another human being what you need to complete yourself. Only God can complete you.