Recently, it seems that everywhere I turn holds difficult circumstances. A friend of mine went on hospice care, some dear church members are suffering from difficult cancer diagnosis, and—on a more personal level—a prolonged battle with an infection has forced me to sit in a chair a lot longer than I would have liked.
In these moments of trials and struggle in our lives, we find out where our hope really lies. Think with me. Where does your hope lie?
- Does your hope lie in your independence?
- Does it lie in your own strength?
- Does it lie in your health?
- Does it lie in your financial status?
- Does it lie in your family?
- …Or does it truly lie in your Savior?
A friend gave me Paul David Tripp’s book Suffering to read. In it, Tripp says:
My weakness enabled me to see and admit to things that I had never faced in myself before. My sickness redefined who I thought I was and what I thought of my walk with God. Let me explain. During those months I was confronted with the reality that much of what I thought was faith in Christ was actually confidence in my physical condition and pride in my ability to produce…. Suffering has the power to expose what you have been trusting all along. If you lose your hope when your physical body fails, maybe your hope wasn’t really in your Savior after all. It was humbling to confess that what I thought was faith was actually self-reliance.
As Tripp explains, when we are approached with trials in our life, our source of hope is suddenly revealed. When trials seem hopeless to us, it is because we were not looking to the proper source of hope.
Thankfully, we are not doomed to keep our hope focused in the wrong place forever. God allows us to see our inadequate hopes. He reminds us that our true hope is only found in Him—regardless of the outcome of our earthly trials.
If suddenly each of my friends made a miraculous recovery (and I hope they do) or if suddenly my infections went away to never return (and I hope this is true), our outlook on life would still be wrong if our hope was not focused on Christ.
Did you read that last sentence? The goal isn’t a life without hardship or pain; the goal is to have hope solely in Christ.
There is no greater place of rest than when your trust is fully in Christ. When you are sure of your standing with God, you can trust His plan. When you are sure your eternity is set because Christ’s finished work on the cross, you can live the most hopeful life possible.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalm 139:7-18)
Oh, to face every trial with the realization that God has precious thoughts towards you. Then you can rest in hope of Christ alone, and that is the best place to be.