Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins. (NIV)
This psalm is the miserable cry of a nobody from nowhere. Yet, because the Lord is attentive to the righteous, the cry penetrates heaven and is received. The psalmist only wants to serve God with a new beginning and fresh obedience – and he will wait and hope for liberation from his misery.
We typically use the term “hope” in a wishful thinking sort of way. That is because we are not quite sure if things will shake-out like we want. But biblical hope is not wishful thinking. Rather, it is a confident expectation of what is to come. Hope is like anticipating the seasons. In the dead of winter when it is bitter cold with little sunshine, we hope, and not wish, for Spring because we know it is coming. It might come in early March, maybe in late April. The trees will bud, the grass will turn green, and the temperature will warm – you can bet your britches on it.
This old world might be messed up and broken right now, but it will not always be this way. Because of the person and work of Jesus Christ, there is hope, the confident expectation that deliverance from sin, death, and hell will be fully realized. We are saved from the bondage of sin through the cross and resurrection of Christ. We are delivered into an inheritance which can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for us until the time is right. Meanwhile, we hope with the confident expectation of Christ’s coming again.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6, NIV)
Until our hope is fully realized, we cry out to God and watch for his deliverance. Regarding our salvation, it is accurate to say that we have been saved (from the realm of sin); we are currently being saved (through being made holy in this life); and, we will be saved (when Jesus returns). Liberation from both our personal struggles and the evil machinations of this world is an ongoing process that will only reach its complete fulfillment at the end of the age.
That is why we experience such a weird existence on this earth, a strange amalgam of good and bad. We not only get mixed messages from the world, but also internally, within our souls, we experience the struggle between right and wrong. Outwardly, we suffer in all kinds of earthly grief from others who do not understand us. Inwardly, we have the silent pain and terrible wrestling of wanting to forgive but desiring revenge; of seeking to be gracious but seething with anger; of looking to express kind words but having hate speech blurt out instead.
It will not always be this way. We have a living hope. Jesus has risen from death. He is alive. He is coming back to judge the living and the dead. He will take us to be with him forever. It is the confident expectation of unhindered relationship, with no obstacles of difficult people, and without any systemic evil from organizational structures giving us a hard time.
Hope is real. It is just as real as anything we will ever know this side of heaven. We might not always find what we are looking for in this life, yet, in the next life, we shall find the life that is truly life in Jesus Christ, who is our hope. Until then, we are to wait neither idly nor passively. Instead, it is sage for us to do the following:
Occupy the time. One of the best ways to avoid becoming anxious while waiting is to do what we are on this earth to do: be a blessing to others.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited…. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-16, 21, NIV)
Don’t try too hard. Trying to use willpower to squelch anxiety will only prompt even greater anxiety. Accept that we will have to wait and that we are not privy to God’s timetable.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 3:7, NLT)
Wait with other people. Waiting with others through talking about our shared hope helps redeem our time in the here and now.
Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7, NLT)
Think of patience as compassion. Becoming impatient about something in life is entirely normal and happens to all of us. Our impatience is a stress response to a situation. Learning to be more patient is a way of being more compassionate to ourselves and others.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12, NIV)
Lord God Almighty, your hope arises with each dawn, pushing back the rubble of our lives. Each new day reminds us of your grace as you paint hope across the sky. Into the deafening cry of hopelessness, you whisper love that catches and holds us. There is no end, just new beginnings. No finish, just new starts. Into your resurrection we follow you into hope. You are alive in the world and in us. So, we carry your hope within our spirits always. Help us to lift our eyes and experience Christ’s resurrection hope arise in our lives through Jesus our Lord. Amen.