God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. – Hebrews 9:18-19
I was a fixture at the Lutheran Chapel of Hope at Southeast Missouri State University some 45 years ago. In fact, at this time 45 years ago Diane and I were making final plans and arrangements for our wedding there. Hope is a special treasure for us all. In fact, it is key to survival.
Admiral James Stockdale was the highest-ranking prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam conflict. He was an astute observer and clear thinker, and noticed that as people came into the prison camp there were two groups who didn’t survive. One group refused to hope for anything good whatsoever. They saw only the brutal facts before them. There was no chance of getting out, they thought. And they lived down to their expectations.
The other group that didn’t make it were those who had a pie-eyed optimism about getting out of the POW camp. “We’ll be out by Easter,” they said. “We’ll be home by the 4th of July. We’ll get released in time for Thanksgiving…Christmas…New Year…and on and one. But the 4th of July came and went, and they were still there. Same for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. Their optimistic thinking did them no good.
The group that survived were those who faced the brutal facts and yet held on to hope. During these difficult days, we must face the brutal facts and hold onto hope. That means we look to God and his promise and his word. Hope founded in God is not just a faint wish for a better tomorrow. Hope laid on God’s word and promise is sure and steadfast. It anchors our souls.
Hope also anchors itself on the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead. He is living proof of the faithfulness of God, and the blessed future we have in him. Jesus is alive and we who hope in him have a living hope. It will not be taken from us.
That doesn’t mean that we’ll always be happy, or never face difficult disappointments. Jesus experienced great physical agony, emotional and spiritual distress. He also said, “In this world you will have troubles.” But he also said, “Rejoice! I have overcome the world” (cf. John 16:33).
On the other hand when life is going well, we must remember that sometimes troubles do come. “Why do you have a rainy-day fund? Because it rains!” This is the philosophy of Dave Ramsey. And it’s solid. Face the brutal facts. Rain will come. But houses prepared for rains will withstand the rain. A life built on believing the promises of God and living in obedience to his commands and alignment with his word will stand the storms that come.
Need an anchor for your soul? Hope in God. Wait for him. Trust in him. He will keep you safe in the storms. And pray. Hope: Hold on. Pray Expectantly.
Heavenly Father, we turn, not panic, in response to this pandemic. We praise You as our Almighty Creator and sustainer. You are the Author of our days, our refuge and strength.
Please incline our ears to truth and give us steadfast hearts as our confidence is in You.
Give us discernment to divide rumor from reality, and help us to make wise decisions and listen to good information.
Deliver us from this disease, we pray, and let your glory fill the earth as you respond to our prayers. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
– From the National Day of Prayer Committee