What is the meaning of the word hope? If you look in your dictionary, it most likely stated that hope is an expectation for an object or event to occur. And if you look in your Bible, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV, Emphasis added).
We can place our hope in many things such as our career stability, possessions, family, friends, and ourselves. This hope, however, is fruitless because all of what is on earth is temporary and fallible. But as saved people, we have Someone whom we have hope in:
We have hope in Him even though we can’t see Him. He is our true hope. The whole world will perish but not Him. People will fail us but not Him because He is infallible.
And as we live in the world, we have tribulations, illnesses, and death because of sin. However, for those who love God, He turns difficulties into something good (Roman 8:28). And as we Christians trudge through our valleys, we find that darkness shrouds our paths and threatens to extinguish our hope.
Famous godly men and women from the past are susceptible to that too. One example is Charles H. Spurgeon. He had multiple depression periods throughout his life due to a traumatic event and other circumstances. Because of his sufferings, having hope in Jesus was precious to him. He said,
When the night gets darker, the light shines brighter. When our trials worsened, our hope in Jesus glows much more.
But what if the valley never seems to end? And what if our path seemed to be getting smoother only for it to drop into a pit? That is when our Shepherd wants us to wait. Waiting is hard. I understand how difficult it can be because I’ve been going through it. Waiting means that we have to persevere, continue to stay close by His side, and accept the situation and outcome we’re in.
From the book Found Faithful, Elizabeth Skoglund knew a lady who suffered with depression for years yet she still kept her hope in God even though He hasn’t healed her yet. He told her wait. Thus, she waits and continues to be close to Him. And, quoting from the book, “[f]ar from sinning, she has chosen to find meaning in her depression and to allow it to draw her closer to God.”
During our periods of waiting, the Bible will spur us on. When it seems that nobody can encourage us with their words, His Word will be the one that lifts us.
Furthermore, waiting is the best time to keep praising our Shepherd from our hearts. A Czech friend once told me that the best place to be when we’re down is to worship Him. I admit, it is an unnatural action for us to do when we’re going through hard times. But when we worship our Shepherd, we’re fulfilling our purpose on earth – to glorify Him. Because despite our circumstances, He is still God.
I know another Czech friend, who sings special presentations at my church in the Czech Republic. God had brought her through breast cancer before. She appeared to be out of the danger zone until a health check-up revealed that cancer was in her brain. Treatment got rid of that particular tumour; however, another check-up showed that she had more tumours inside.
And do you know what she did? She continued to sing specials at church until she physically could not. Her hope in Jesus did not die, God was glorified through her, and people around her could see Jesus in her.
Months after the aforementioned Czech friend passed on to heaven, I listened to her songs occasionally. Initially, they sounded sad because I was sad, then … over time, I realised that they were overflowing with hope.
Thinking back, I wonder how she could still sing when she was suffering so much physically? The answer lies in her Shepherd. He is her God of hope, just as how He is my God of hope and your God of hope.
If we continue to stay by our Shepherd’s side, we’ll have blessings in our valleys. For examples, being moulded and refined, growing closer to Him, and claiming His promises. Most importantly, the greatest blessing of all is having Him as our God.
He is our Shepherd who’ll never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He had prepared a place for us to be forever with Him (John 14:3), a place of everlasting joy (Isaiah 41:11), a place where “… God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, KJV). How comforting that is!
My mentioning of the Shepherd and valleys probably reminds you of Psalm 23. I know that it’s a passage that most of us have memorised but go to your Bible and read it now. After you finished reading it, return to this post.
Welcome back! Did you find that the passage emanated hope? Now read it again, and listen to this song while you do so:
Friend, no matter how steep the path in front of you gets and how dark the valley can be, please don’t give up your hope in Jesus Christ. Because in Him, you can live victoriously through your challenges and claim His promises and blessings. And in Him, you will one day live without valleys for eternity.
May His grace, mercy, strength, joy, and hope be with you.
Skoglund, Elizabeth R., Found Faithful: The Timeless Stories of Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, C. S. Lewis, Ruth Bell Graham and Others, 2004, Discovery House Publishers.
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Clarissa Choo is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she has lived in four countries, Heaven is her only home. She desires to sow His seeds and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Besides writing, she loves to wash dishes, chop ingredients into smithereens, and record hymns on her piano. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry or read more posts.