Hope for Every Day
She had missed the point. Now she was ostracized; she knew it and acted as such. Inside she felt rather empty. Broken relationships had crushed her sense of belonging and her picture of love was quite fractured.
His success in life had been enormous, but was torn down by a number of catastrophes over an extremely short time. Here he was. His so called ‘friends’ asked him what his hidden sins were, and his wife told him to curse God and die.
It is, however, not enough for a steward of hope to visit these texts and share the stories. We need to internalize them and in turn, share our own story.
What hope would you give her if you met her? What hope would you bring him? Maybe you have experienced something like it. Or maybe you know some who have. These stories are from real life, written in the Bible. They are outstanding in their hopelessness, but these themes are also repeated again and again throughout history. Many lead lives of hopelessness.
These stories are deep because they also bring hope. The woman at the well, in John chapter 4, met Jesus and that changed her life into a life filled with meaning and hope. Job met God at a deeper level and that changed his life.
It is, however, not enough for a steward of hope to visit these texts and share the stories. We need to internalize them and in turn, share our own story. Then we will be sharing real hope—a hope that changes us and others as well—a hope that will bring new life. Without even thinking about it, we will be a steward of hope. Hope will have become a part of who we are. Hope is not something reserved for times of crisis. As can be seen in the stories of Job and the woman at the well, hope can fill every day.
The Story of Job
In the book of Job we are allowed to look behind the scenes, There we can clearly see that Satan has set out to harass Job. The supporters of Job, however, reason that Job’s misfortune has come because there is sin in his life. With this perspective it is only natural to believe that God is required to punish him. To make matters worse, his wife sees no point in serving a God who treats him like that. Job himself says, however, that sin in his life is not the cause for his calamities. He claims that he still has a relationship with his merciful redeemer, but he still asks God why this is happening (Job 1:6-12; 4:7-8; 2:9; 19:3-4.25-27; 23:3-5).
I find the spiritual highlight in chapter 38-42, where God talks to Job and Job gives his response: “. . . now my eyes see you (Job 42:5),” and this is said by a man who already knows God. The Lord’s speech has touched something very deep inside Job. He now sees God in a way he had never seen Him before, and with a feeling of connection to the Lord he had never felt before. Job also confirms his understanding of God: “I know that you can do everything” (Job 42:2).
“Then the Lord answered Job,” but God didn’t tell him about Satan’s part in the drama. He didn’t answer Job’s ‘why’ question. No, the Lord answered Job in a completely different way.
What is it precisely that the Lord told Job? In Job 38:1, we find: “Then the Lord answered Job,” but God didn’t tell him about Satan’s part in the drama. He didn’t answer Job’s ‘why’ question. No, the Lord answered Job in a completely different way.
God Reveals Himself to Job
God answered Job by revealing Himself to Job. Through descriptions of scenes in nature, God reveals to Job His might, His creative power, His wisdom, and how He is in control and able to set the boundaries in this world. Job’s confidence in God is renewed. His trust is deepened—deeper than it has ever been. All Job can do is exclaim: “But now my eye sees you.”
The Woman at the Well
The woman from Sychar came to Jacobs’s well in the middle of the day, a time when nobody else went. She could go unnoticed at the hottest time of the day and avoid meeting the judgemental glances and questions that no doubt would greet her. Because of her lifestyle she might not have liked herself but meeting Jesus changed all of that.. In one short conversation, she was taken from slavery to freedom from feeling condemned to being a new person. This was a wonderful transition process and we can learn much from the account in John 4:4-42.
First of all, Jesus showed her respect. As a Jew, He might not have liked her for being a Samaritan, and as a man, He might not have had much consideration for her as a woman, but He regarded her as something of value, by asking a favor of her: “Give Me a drink,” He said. Secondly, He broadened her perspective by offering her a remedy, she was really in need of—“living water”, and He leads her to “thirst” for it. Thirdly, when she asks for the remedy, he goes straight to her point of slavery: Men, too many men in her life. Maybe this was not her first issue, but it does point to her chain of unhealthy life-patterns which are keeping her enslaved. Finally, when she turns religious, Jesus corrects her prejudice and tells her where she needs to change: “Salvation comes from the Jews,” He says, revealing Himself to her as the Messiah, the Savior, the One coming to fulfill all the promises she knew, and the only One able to supply that Living Water.
Again we find that God answers human questions by revealing Himself to us: Who He is, and what He is like. He also reveals what is in us, and what we need to change.
The perspectives found in these stories have changed my way of thinking about God, and this has increased my sense of hope in everyday life. I have more confidence in Jesus. I trust Him more. It is easier for me to allow Him to be God. I no longer need to know everything. It is more important for me to know Him.
When He reveals Himself, I know that He is there. I know that He is in control. I know my other issues will be sorted out in His perfect way. That is where I find hope for every day. It is then that I am filled with hope. My trust is now in Him!
In my spiritual life, my desire is first and foremost for God to reveal Himself to me. I can set at rest my eagerness for His answers, His guidance, His solving my issues because of this one thing: When He reveals Himself, I know that He is there. I know that He is in control. I know my other issues will be sorted out in His perfect way. That is where I find hope for every day. It is then that I am filled with hope. My trust is now in Him!
Secondly, I know that behind all that He does is His purpose to show me that He loves me. I pray for a recognition of His love. When I sense this reality, I’m filled by His loving presence. With that realization I can handle anything. Nothing, then, is too big for me for I am filled by God’s love and all that it represents.
Thirdly, I surrender my bruises to Him. I allow Him to touch the sore parts of my life, so that I will be healed. Doing so can be painful. Like the woman at the well, I often like to hide my hurts rather than placing them where He can heal them. When He does I am set free—really free.
Lastly, I open my mind so I can listen to His explanations, His theology and His ways. I want the Jesus He is, not the ‘Jesus’ I create.
By applying this biblical pattern of searching for answers and then finding more of the fullness of God as did Job and the woman at the well, then hope, love, peace and satisfaction fill my heart. It seems He has plenty to share because He continues to fill me more and more with revelations of His love.
I have learned that one way of incorporating these principles into my life is by prayerfully writing down on paper my reflections about these stories and by addressing them directly to Jesus. I ask Jesus to unfold His Word to me in the process. I reflect over a single sentence or a few sentences at a time. This allows Him to fill me with hope and love as I go through each text. I am confident you will find the blessings I have found. His love will shine through you. You will carry the hope He inspires in your own life. It will be a blessing to others as you share this hope.