How Can I Have Certain Hope in Uncertain Times?

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Let’s just address the elephant in the room, which is the fact that we’re sheltering-in-place next to said elephant with no reprieve in sight. We’ve been quarantined away from our favorite people, forced to change our most ingrained habits, learned how to pursue relationships - virtually, and even wrestled with one another for toilet paper. We are isolated and lonely and uncertain about what the future holds. Yet God tells us, have hope.  

To be honest, I’ve never really been a big fan of hope. (I know I probably shouldn’t say that on our church blog, but hear me out.) Throughout my life, in some of my darkest times of secondary infertility, broken relationships, and death, people have told me to have hope. It often felt like they were just trying to wish away my difficult situation because they didn’t know what else to say. Perhaps someone has said that to you in these bizarre times to try and help you feel better. But you and I know that doesn’t always work. We know that no matter how many times we try to wish away the uncertain and difficult circumstances, the uncertain and difficult circumstances still hang around.  

Here is where our problem lies – we are hopelessly hope-filled creatures. We can’t help but have hope because we have a heart full of desires and expectations. (Even if it’s just leaving the house!) When we have desires and expectations, we hope that they are fulfilled. But as creatures of this world, the hope we naturally have within us is wishful and not very certain. And unfortunately, wishful hope doesn’t do a lot for us in these dark times.   

The Bible, too, is full of uncertain and dark times, and one that stands out to me, was David. David and King Saul were at extreme odds, and Saul, filled with jealous rage and envy, was chasing after David with the specific desire to kill him. So David, to preserve his life, hid throughout the region, and at one point, found himself hiding in a cave. David ran from Saul for seven years; he had to leave his wife Michal and his best friend Jonathan. He was living in complete isolation away from comforts, relationships, and safety. Sound familiar?   

Yet David, in the middle of uncertain circumstances, expressed a certain hope when he wrote Psalm 18:  

"I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in who I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies."

How do you think David could respond to his difficult circumstances with such hope? David didn’t know if he would ever see his friends or family again, much less get out of that cave alive. David didn’t just have wishful hope — David had certain hope. And I heard one of my favorite authors, Tim Keller, describe certain hope as watchtower hope. Let me explain what he meant.    

Imagine with me...  

You have found yourself in a battle, fighting against your enemies (fear, uncertainty, doubt, isolation, etc.), and from where you are, it doesn’t seem like the battle is going all that well. No matter what direction you look, you see casualties, and no matter how hard you fight, it seems the enemy is closing in. But if you climb the nearby watchtower, you can look down below and see the battle that is still raging, but what’s different is that you can look on to the horizon.   

Do you see it? It’s far away, but it looks like there’s something on the horizon. It’s the reinforcement that’s coming. It’s a battalion that is coming to rescue you — it is Jesus and His army! And you’re not just wishing for it — you can legitimately see him coming. It is the same army that rescued you from the last battle and the same one that will continue to rescue you until your last day.   

It’s the Jesus that, when Joel and I were struggling with infertility, overwhelmed me with the presence of God and his abounding love and faithfulness.   

It’s the Jesus that, when one of my closest friendships failed, reminded me that He always has been and always will be enough.   

It’s the Jesus that, when I was grieving death, revealed to me His plan and His purpose for the future and that He will come to make everything right in His time.   

When we are on the ground fighting the battle, it’s easy to think we are forfeiting, being taken out, or even worthless or irrelevant. But from the watchtower, we can see the work that Jesus is doing right now to restore His Kingdom, and we see that it’s not just done one time or for one person — it’s work that is done for each one of us according to His will and His power and His glory.   

I don’t like talking about hope when we are trying to wish away our problems. But I love talking about hope when I can put certain hope in my God who is trustworthy and true to His Word, and His Word tells us:   

That He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) 

That he is more concerned for us than the birds of the air. (Matthew 6:26) 

He has designed us with a plan and a purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10) 

We are a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9) 

We are adopted as His sons and daughters. (Galatians 4:5) 

His Spirit lives within us. (Romans 8:9-11) 

And neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39) 

Climb the watchtower with me today and look for the battalion coming for you. You are not alone.

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