Three Acts of Hope
A wise person has noted, “When everything seems to be falling apart around you, everything is actually falling into place.”
Our wise, kind and eternally happy King remains sovereign (1 Tim 6:15). He has not been conquered or caught off guard. Remember it was God himself who said, “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Is 45:7).
As one pastor put it,
“Nature is not sovereign. Satan is not sovereign. Sinful man is not sovereign. God rules them all (Lk 8:25; Job 1:12; 2:6; Acts 4:27-28). And so we say with Job, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
Therefore, God not only comprehends the coronavirus; he has purposes for it. God does nothing, and permits nothing, without wise purposes. Nothing just happens. Everything flows from the eternal counsels of God (Eph. 1:11). All of it is wisdom. All of it is purposeful. For those who trust Jesus Christ, all of it is kindness. For others, it is a merciful wake-up call: “Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rv 22:17).
This is the time to continue hoping in our LORD and in no other. Health concerns and social norms change but our immutable God, our everlasting Rock (Isaiah 26:4) never does (Mal. 3:6).
The last few days I have been meditating on what hoping in God really means. From the book of 1 Timothy for example, I learned that there are three practical things that hope-filled Christians regularly do, showing that their hope is in God and not in anything in this world:
- Hope-filled Christians work hard for the people of God.
- Hope-filled widows pray persistently for the people of God.
- Hope-filled Christians with means give generously to meet needs.
First, they labor for the Lord’s people. Second, they pray (night and day) for the Lord’s people. And third, they give generously to the Lord by giving generously to meet the needs of the Lord’s people and any neighbor in need.
By application, we labor for the Lord’s people for the Lord’s sake. We pray for the Lord’s people (night and day) because we belong to them as their brothers and sisters, and we give financially to meet the needs of people as though their needs were our own, part of the needs of the family.
Lets look closer at these three acts of hope: serving, praying, and giving in context.
First, speaking personally of his own perspiring labor on behalf of the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote openly to co-laborer Timothy of the labor and agony of ministry as made possible because of unwavering hope in God:
“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim 4:10).
Second, speaking of the honorable Christian widow, the apostle highlighted private, persistent praying as the natural expression of hope having been set in God with continuing results in the present:
“She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives” (1 Tim 5:5).
Third, speaking to Timothy about how to lead Ephesian believers at Ephesus who had more than they needed, the apostle charges him to instruct them to not trust in money but in the Maker of All. Such hope in the God of heaven is the catalyst for deeper pockets of generosity towards the genuine needs of the church body, knowing this generosity will be remembered by the Lord and will return with everlasting profit to the individual giver in the forever, never-to-be-lost treasure of the incorruptible New Earth. Costi Hinn got it right, “Wealth is not a sin. Wealth is a responsibility.”
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim 6:17-19).
That’s it. That’s what people of hope do! Their leaders labor, they’re widows pray, they all give according to their means. Of course, each of us engages in these acts of hope and in doing so we are letting our hope in God be made visible—a powerful witness to the lost (1 Pt 3:15).
Dear ones, I have been so encouraged to share in evening meetings (using the Zoom app) with the elders to see their labors of love for you. I have been so lifted in spirit to know that many of our widows pray regularly through the church directory and for the specific needs mentioned on the monthly prayer sheet. To my joy, I know that many in our church family are doing the same.
Additionally, I am inspired to see the outpouring of generosity coming from the giving hearts of those who have bought, cooked, prepared, and delivered meals to many in our church body during this difficult time. And for all the acts of kindness—large and small—given towards aged parents, the elderly among us, the now home-schooled children needing help and time, and “anyone nearby” in need. Thank You. Thank you for loving your neighbor as yourself. Thank you for laying down your lives for each other. And for those who are giving generously to our church via our online giving portal in order to share in the needs of the church during a season of physical separation, thank you! We are making budget today because of you! Thank you. Every gift is important.
Beloved, thank you for being a person of hope in God. You continue to shine! And if you are struggling having hope in this time, or have a pressing need, please know you are being prayed for by your elder. If you wish, why not call me on my cell phone (559-690-1953), I would like to pray with you and help you. You can also call your elder.
As the beloved family of God (Eph 5:1), we know who we are because we know whose we are. Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters (Heb 2:11).
Thank you for being light amidst darkness, beacons of hope during a season that’s outwardly bleak, but for us is “momentary light affliction working for us an eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are unseen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:17-18).
May the flag of hope continue to fly over you, buried in your heart—the new heart—the home of the living God. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). And so we say with the prophet Jeremiah,
“This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
Here are some thought provoking questions to ask ourselves as we seek to shine the light of hope even brighter.
Am I hoping in God today? Is hope reflected in how I am passing my time while sheltering? Is hope seeping through my conversations? Is hope showing up tangibly in my giving to those in need? Has my hope ignited my passion to pray in new ways and for more people? Has my hope stimulated me to serve in new ways?
Take a closer look at your life. For whom are you serving? For whom are you praying? To whom are you giving? In anxious anticipation of our Lord’s return, may your hope “overflow” in an outpouring of “love and good deeds” (Rom 15:13; Heb 10:24).
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