Risking Hope

Critical Questions

What does it mean to “risk” hoping? Why is hope crucial to our faith journeys? What is the purpose of hope and why do we have to take risks to grow in hope? Several weeks ago, I explained the three virtues of faith, hope, and love and how they are necessary for spiritual growth in the post below:

Faith, Hope, and Love

I admit that hope is the most challenging of the virtues for me to practice. After reading and reflecting, I want to share some insights with you on hope and the necessary risks involved. Many of these insights are explained in detail in Daniel B. Allender’s: The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life. I recommend purchasing his book and reading chapter Eight “The Dream of Hope.” I am including various quotes and paraphrases of his ideas for the use of religious education and encouragement that is made available online without charge and for non-profit purposes. Please consider purchasing this book. Dr. Allender presents challenging truths that will help you to process and grow through your difficulties.

All Bible quotations come from:

The Holy Bible, Berean Standard Bible, BSB
Copyright ©2016, 2020, 2022 by Bible Hub
Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Why is Hope a struggle? Why risk?

If you have experienced any form of loss then you personally know how hope can become a daily battle. Life is a series of storms that rage against us. No one will escape these trials nor can we expect our journeys of faith to be easy when seeking to follow and become more like Christ. Hebrews Chapter Eleven: The Roll Call of Faith explains what we can expect on our journeys.

To have hope is to believe that what comes in the future is going to be immeasurably better than what you are currently experiencing. God promises us eternity with Him in a state of absolute perfection that makes even the best moments of our earthly lives seem as dim shadows. C.S. Lewis writes about this as well–there are numerous good articles online. For a quick read:

Role of Desire and Risk

C.S. Lewis writes (quick summary) that we don’t desire enough of the right things! When we experience loss and disappointments in life, we arrive at a crossroads. One road leads to bitterness, retreat, and attempting to kill our desires in an attempt to abate the pain. Another road leads to our desires growing in a new direction. Dr. Allender reminds us that our hurts can be paths to love God and others more. It’s our pain that leads us to Christ! What do you desire? What is in our lives that God calls us to surrender to Himself?

What do I mean by “risk”? We have to take risks in growing in hope! We can’t grow in hope when we are totally focused on being comfortable and safe! If we are totally satisfied with the things of our lives here on earth then we don’t hunger for the God’s much better things. God is the Giver of All Good Things as taught in James 1:17 BSB

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.

God graciously blesses us with good health, jobs/careers to provide for ourselves and family as well as spiritual gifts, talents, and other wonderful things! But do we start to love the gifts and good things more than He who gives them freely?

The Risk: God Calls Us to Grow

Do we risk growing in hope? Do we choose to remain distant, hurt, comfortable and content instead of pressing ahead in becoming more like Christ? What if Abram had ignored God’s call? He was already established and set in his age living with his family. What about Moses? What if he had ignored the burning bush and kept tending the sheep in the desert? Let’s consider Jesus’ Disciples for a moment. What if Peter, James, and John kept fishing and going about their lives instead of following Christ? What about Mary and Martha, they could have rejected and turned away from Jesus when Lazarus died?

Thankfully we will never know the answer to these what if questions because these men and women dared to hope and faith! They risked all to follow Christ. Jesus calls us to come to Him and find true life which involves us surrendering to Him. Consider this quote:

It (hope) grows only to the degree we lean into the unknown and risk the present for the sake of the future. The risk of hope is seeing what can’t be seen. It is seeing the future from the redemption of the past and then setting out toward what God has called us to become and do.

Dan B. Allender “The Dream of Hope” pg. 148

God works through our past and present hurts/failures to move us toward becoming more like Him. God invites you to His presence wherein we surrender ourselves to be transformed. Surrender to God means that we are trusting in His Grace, Mercy, and Righteousness to save and renew us. This is a miraculous work of God! He takes the unrighteousness and sinful and makes new creatures! We risk becoming something better than what we are!

Part of healing from past hurts and disappointments appears in our journey to become more like Christ. Do we keep walking in faith, seeking, believing, and loving God even when experiencing long periods of silence and set-backs?

Mary and Martha’s Grief

Martha questions Jesus when He arrives (John 11). Jesus uses this moment of death and grief to teach a greater truth: that He is the Resurrection and Life. Consider how Jesus responds to this difficult moment in John 11:33-44

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34“Where have you put him?” He asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they answered.

35Jesus wept.

36Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

37But some of them asked, “Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus
38Jesus, once again deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39“Take away the stone,” Jesus said.

“Lord, by now he stinks,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man. “It has already been four days.”

40Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted His eyes upward and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42I knew that You always hear Me, but I say this for the benefit of the people standing here, so they may believe that You sent Me.”

43After Jesus had said this, He called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

44The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, and his face wrapped in a cloth.

“Unwrap him and let him go,” Jesus told them.

Notice that Jesus responds to their grief by weeping with them. He doesn’t minimize their pain. He is troubled and grieves with them. Why? It’s clear that Jesus deeply loves them and is angry with sin/death that leads all to die. Jesus understands that we are lost and perishing! The Gospel of John indicates that Jesus deeply loves His followers. Jesus understands loss and grief. He came to make all things anew–to end the separation of lost humanity to a Holy, Perfect, Righteous God.

Hope Cries Out To God

Hope cries to God in despair and protest. . . Hope cries out for God to turn from his silence and speak. . .Hope is not an absence of sorrow, but a refusal to allow powerlessness to silence our cry or to shake our confidence in God. Instead, we are to call on God to be God–to protest his silence and anticipate the day when he speaks.

Dan. B. Allender “The Dream of Hope, pages 150-151

Martha questions Jesus and presents the obvious: why did you let your friend die? Jesus explains in verse 40 that Lazarus dies so that God’s glory will be visible. Earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus explains the man’s birth blind: John 9:1-3

1Now as Jesus was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth, 2and His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him.

Jesus knows we have questions and want answers. The Enduring Word Bible commentary explains each verse of John Chapter 11

John Chapter 11

God has a plan and purpose for all the difficult moments we endure. I lack the wisdom and understanding to fully understand and explain this mysterious truth to you. I have doubts and question God when things come against me. Yet, I can testify that God has never forsaken me or given up on my failing, weak faith. Sometimes all that we can do is hang onto God in our moments of darkness and despair. Do we trust that God will redeem and restore the difficult things? Do we risk waiting upon God or seeking our own path out of the storms of life?

CityAlight has a song that reminds us of a wonderful truth: that God knows all our ways!

Jesus Turns Grief and Loss to New Life

Jesus triumphed over death and sin on the cross. Until He returns, we will suffer loss and death, but death isn’t the end. I want you to understand that our lives, difficulties, grief, and losses isn’t permanent. Our hope rests firmly in the knowledge that God has redeemed us and will return to establish His Presence on Earth. All things will be made anew. The challenge of hope is that we firmly rest ourselves on Christ’s Resurrection and Redemption instead of living/hoping solely for the things of this present age.

Has God redeemed you? Has He given you True, Abundant Life? Are you trusting in His Marvelous Grace? If not then why not? The Good News of the Gospel is that God welcomes the Prodigals to come home and seeks out the Lost. May God increase your faith, hope, and courage as you seek Him daily! For His glory and your encouragement, I write,

Published by leestanfill@yahoo.com

Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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