Thankfully I’ve never been in a violent storm at sea nor been shipwrecked but it’s what Paul and his fellow passengers were facing on the journey to Rome. I can’t imagine what it must have been like! They’d tried everything they could to keep the ship afloat – even to the point of throwing cargo and the ships tackle overboard but still the situation didn’t change. Three days into the storm and having presumably had little sleep and even less food and water, they must have been shattered, starving and scared!
‘When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.’
There was only one conclusion to draw – ‘they were doomed to go down with the ship!’ They had lost all hope of being rescued and besides there were no flares or radios to signal mayday and certainly no coast guards or Air Sea Rescue to bail them out. They had lost all hope of being saved.
Paul speaks into their situation and encourages not to lose hope:
“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” (Acts 27:13-26)
They’d given up all hope of being saved….they had lost all hope of survival.
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING FOR?
What are you hoping for right now? The guys in the ship were simply hoping to survive and continue living! Maybe you’re hoping for a degree, career, boy friend, financial miracle, your own home, acceptance of others, healthy again…..or perhaps you’ve been going through a really difficult and dark season and your hope is a simple one – that your life will just get better, that just for once something good might happen to you or that good news will arrive, just for a change. Maybe, like those sailors you’ve simply abandoned all hope.
I want to encourage you today not to lose hope but rather to begin to hope again.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)
Our hope in Jesus Christ should be the anchor of our faith and so I’m going to share five characteristics of hope….
HOPE IS ASSURED
Hope knows who God is, what Jesus did! Hope gets His nature, character, faithfulness, love, mercy etc and trusts Him completely. Hope is assured that actually ‘My times are in His hands.’ (Psalm 31:15). The sailors looked at the circumstances, the storm and the wind & waves and abandoned all hope because they forgot that God was in control.
Our Greatest Weakness!
When we’re in a storm – our greatest weakness as Christians can be to quickly jump to the conclusion that God:
• isn’t in control & isn’t involved
• can’t be trusted
• doesn’t care
• will let us go
Don’t Lose Hope!
When nothing appears to be happening, it’s a massive temptation to behave just like those sailors and abandon all hope and as the result give up praying and believing and expecting God to act. However this is precisely the time to cling onto God and pray! It’s the time to press in, trust and believe! Don’t lose hope!
How can I say this? I can say it because I’ve been in some desperate situations and I have seen God at work. I’ve been through dark days where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, where the money had run out and the debts were overwhelming, where there’s no food to put on the table and no presents for the children at Christmas. I’ve experienced loss and bereavement, rejection, attacks, sleepless nights, pressure and even breakdown. Every single time, and without fail, God has sustained us and brought us through. In fact on many occasions we have seen God’s miracle provision and breakthroughs!
Every one of the storms we face have been allowed by God to create assurance and strengthen our faith. None of them are pleasant at the time but as I look back I thank God for what He built in me through those challenging times. (Check out Romans 5:2-5). Some of you are learning how to trust God right now – even in the storm.
A strong faith creates future hope. Sadly there are no short cuts!
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)
Hope is not wishful thinking. It’s assured by our knowledge, understanding and experience of Father God. We have hope because of who He is.
HOPE HAS ATTITUDE!
What attitude does hope have? What does it look like….?
“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
Hope has a courageous attitude
It refuses to be dis-couraged! No matter how bleak things look! We live by faith NOT by sight!!
Hope says I will NOT quit!
Even when quitting looks easier! Don’t lose hope!
Hope keeps going against all the odds!
It perseveres no matter what obstacles, storms or people etc come against me! It says I’ve come this far and I ain’t giving up now! I’m so close!
Hope Says – The prize is massive!!!!
If the footballer, Jamie Vardy, had quit….he wouldn’t be having a party for Leicester City & England right now!
If JK Rowling had quit (she recently published rejection letters to encourage other writers) she wouldn’t be enjoying the fame and fortune she enjoys.
The moment you want to quit is usually the moment right before something amazing happens. Don’t quit! Success might be just around the corner! Hope – never, ever gives up!
“When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”
(Charles L. Allen)
I love the story about Abraham & Sarah when they are told by God that they’re going to have a baby!! He’s nearing 100 and she’s nearly 90 and barren! Of course they have a baby! Isaac is born. Imagine that ladies! Pushing one out at 90! Unbelievable. This story has helped me to believe God for anything! Why? Because of this incredible verse!
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.””
I have stood on that verse so many times!! I have stood on this promise so many times and believed against all odds in the God of Hope!! Hope has attitude.
Hope – gets God’s attention! It’s actually not too hard to get His attention because God is already looking…
“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
Hope attracts Him – because hope is a powerful expression of our faith!
Gods is not looking for the doubters or the moaners & groaners! God is looking for the ones who will:
• Show absolute faith in Him and NOT anyone else!
• Wake up every morning expectant and say ‘today’s the day Lord!’ and believe it!
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
God is attracted to hope and faith! He can’t help himself.
Hope mixed with faith gets God’s attention.
Hope always acts. Hope doesn’t just talk, hope ‘Walks the Walk.’
We cannot expect the favour of God if we ignore Gods commands.
We cannot expect to live as we please – in the hope that this loving God will simply shower us with blessings…..
The history of the children of Israel is there as an example to us……
Moses’ final words to them as they entered Canaan were a warning not to forget about God once they started enjoying the land flowing with milk and honey. It was a reminder obey Him and that blessings followed obedience ((Deuteronomy 11:8-15)
“The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil.”
(1 Peter 3:12 NLT)
The trusting & obedient Christian is highly attractive to God.
I promise you this – If you do everything you can then – I believe you’re positioning yourself for God to do everything He can!!
When life becomes tough and breakthroughs aren’t happening – maybe we need to go back to God and say:
‘Am I walking the walk God?’
‘Is there anything I’m doing that’s wrong?
‘Am I missing something?’
There have been many times in my life when God has said ‘no further until you deal with that….’
You know we can hope as much as we like for future breakthroughs and change in our lives but sometimes God is waiting for us to act. Obedience brings blessing.
Strong’s Commentary says this about the Greek word for hope:
ἐλπίς means “to anticipate, welcome, properly, expectation of what is sure (certain); hope.”
Hope anticipates, welcomes & expects what is sure! Paul said to the guys in the ship:
“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. ‘From now on – things are looking up!’ (MSG)
Hope anticipates and welcomes what faith is sure God is going to do! (Heb 11:1-2)
Aren’t you glad seasons change – I love Spring! I love walking my little black dog and for the last few weeks I have been watching the hedgerows for signs of Spring. I’m anticipating the new season!
There are seasons to our own individual lives. I’ve written a helpful post on this.
Maybe you are going through a difficult season (feels very bleak, cold, dark and wet – nothing appears to be happening). Maybe, like the sailors, you’ve abandoned all hope.
Let me tell you…… Spring is in the air!
You’ve been in winter clothes for so long you haven’t noticed!
Hope anticipates, welcomes & expects what is surely coming!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Sometimes we lack hope because we fail to anticipate or even recognise that it’s a new day, a new season or even time for a new path.
Israel was going through a season of exile, bondage and containment. The dreams of the land flowing with milk and honey were long gone but God spoke into their lives, giving them a heads up that a new day was coming:
‘For I know the plans I have for you. declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)
That word is for you today! Hope anticipates, welcomes & waits for what God is doing…or about to do.
Tertullian, early Christian theologian and apologist said: ‘Hope is patience with the lamp lit.’
I like that!
This is my prayer for you today:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Don’t lose hope!