What are you hoping for?
2016 has been a very difficult year. Heartache, struggle, questioning, betrayals and failures…sounds like a bad soap opera plot…I know, I lived it. But, I am not writing to relive the details…that is not the heart of this post…quite the opposite. For, in spite of the many trials of this past year, something has emerged deep within me that is healthy, alive and growing. Something unexpected…Hope.
Fresh hope for a new year is certainly not a foreign concept. It doesn’t take long traveling the “interwebs” to find many voices crying out for a new beginning at the end of a calendar year. And though I join with those voices as a fellow traveler in the valley, I am discovering something that is rooted deep in my soul and goes beyond the dreams of changing circumstances. Now, lets be real here, I do hope for certain circumstances to change in my life but I am learning that the joy of living is not found in a change of “venue”. Have you heard the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.”? Its true…our attitude doesn’t change just because the view out the window might.
So heading into 2017 self-reflection poses many questions….”What are you hoping for?” A new job? A new relationship? Healing of mind or body? A reconciliation of relationship gone bad? A child? More money? Travel to new places? A better world? Purpose in life? The hopes and dreams of human desire could fill a library, if truth be known, for the heart of man is always searching. But, is there a place where longing stops and contentment is truly found? A place where the nagging ache for something other than the life we have finds rest?
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 42:11 NASB
There may be nothing wrong with hoping for a change in our circumstances, but there might be. I have found that though a change of circumstances may give me what I hoped for, it may not be what I need. I find it intriguing that the Psalmist, though in great despair, does not encourage himself to hope in a change of circumstances, but rather in the Lord. I believe his hope was that the Lord would change his heartache, but he doesn’t make that the object of his hope.
The Biblical character Joseph received dreams from the Lord, promises from God at the age of 17. Those dreams became the foundation of hope for this young man. But the path to the fulfillment of those dreams brought Joseph through slavery and prison for thirteen years before his hope became reality.
Joseph had a God given ability to interpret dreams. While in prison, his eleventh year of captivity, he interpreted a dream of the man whose former job was to serve as Pharoah’s cupbearer. Because this man displeased Pharoah, he was imprisoned. Joseph interpreted a dream that the cupbearer had while in jail that foretold of the cupbearer’s release and reinstatement to his former position. The only thing Joseph asked was that the cupbearer mention Joseph to Pharaoh in hopes of securing his own release. But in spite of his seemingly endless struggle Joseph is dealt a devastating blow…
“He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” Genesis 40:21,23 NASB
Joseph’s story does not end there. Joseph ends up interpreting Pharoah’s dream and in the process, saves a nation and God’s people from famine. Though his hope was delayed, the dreams were ultimately fulfilled and God’s awesome purposes were realized. When hope in circumstances were crushed, God’s plan was not stopped…
“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile.” Genesis 41:1 NASB
The Joseph narrative stands as a reminder to those who have lost hope or maybe have misplaced hope. Which brings me back to you and me, us. What are you hoping for this coming year? Or maybe a better question, “In what do you place your hope?” I am discovering that the more I place my hope in circumstances, the less contentment and security I possess. For I am finding that my true hope, the one that brings peace, joy and contentment is found in the One who loves me with a perfect love. The One who created me and knows exactly what I truly need…and first and foremost, I need Him. When my hope is centered in Him, I can find everything I hope for.
My hope is that the Lord will become the center of our hope and dreams for 2017.