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The Journey of Hope - Two

Isaiah 40:27-31 

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?
The people of Israel had fallen prey to a state of hopelessness and despair. It can easily happen to all of us. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is about looking to that which is unseen, and that means we can come to a place where it all seems futile and an illusion, with God no more than a figment of our imagination. So we have these Children of Israel whom the prophet is addressing, feeling that God is paying them no heed. They were looking at the evidence that life was giving them and drawing what they considered to be the only conclusion.
How do we take the various forms of disappointment and “captivity” we experience and see them with different eyes? How do we look with the eyes of faith? There are breakthroughs and freedoms that each of us longs for; how can we have eyes like Isaiah? As I look at this passage, I see that it begins with Isaiah having a clear grasp of who God is.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah held to hope because he held to sound theology. He didn’t look first at his circumstances, but he kept his focus on who he knew God to be. He allowed that to shape his heart attitudes rather than everything else. Secondly he was comfortable with not having all the answers and recognising the limitations of his understanding and that he could not expect to fathom the Lord’s understanding. This can seem like a bit of a cop out, but not if it is spoken by someone like Isaiah who has thought long and deeply about God and his ways.
I get the sense that when Isaiah goes on to say, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak, he is talking from his personal experience. As a prophet, I am sure he knew the reality of wrestling with God and waiting on God. He would have known times when his own human resources could not support the tough prophetic ministry assigned to him. So he comes to his main affirmation:
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Hope, when it is rightly directed to the Lord, is very powerful. It has the power to change our psychological and even physical reality, and to give us energy where, naturally speaking, we should have none.
When we choose to live in a God-saturated context, with our lives focussed on him, it begins to change the world we live in and the way we live in it. I look at the example of Isaiah and I ask, how much do I know of this, and how much do I desire to press into it? I don’t want to simply make peace with all that falls short in the world around me and the world within me. To do so is to fall prey to the narrative that, struggle though I may, I cannot overcome these “giants”. David faced Goliath in the full assurance that the battle was the Lord’s, not his.
For us to live as people of hope, we need that perspective. Our focus needs to be on the redeeming power of God, not the threatening size of our adversary, whatever it may be.

Taryn Galloway, 26/05/2020

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The Journey of Hope - One

Psalm 33:12-22 

Psalm 33 begins with a glorious hymn of praise. It expresses sheer cloudless joy, measured entirely by the Lord’s goodness, rather than our worthiness. It praises the God who is bringing his purposes in creation to perfect fulfilment through his mighty sovereignty. It is on this basis that the psalm goes on to speak of hope.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling-place he watches all who live on earth –
 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
It is a most blessed thing to be among those who are the people of God. It is not a daunting thing to be constantly under his gaze. He looks upon us and knows each of us completely. He sees everything you and I do and knows all our motivations, both the good and the bad. The important thing is for us to recognise that our lives are under the constant gaze of the One who is perfectly righteous and who has the purpose and the power to bring that righteousness into being in all his creation – including in you and me.
In my weakness and fallibility, I need to know that the Lord watches over me. There is no point in me cultivating any false pride or belief in my self-sufficiency. For each of us, our posture must always be one of open, honest humility and vulnerability before the Lord.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
The Lord’s eye is on us not to judge and condemn, but to deliver and sustain us. That is why it is good to know that his eyes are ever on us. That is why it is spiritually healthy to live in constant acknowledgement of that reality, even in our moments of failure and shame.
The foundation of hope in each of our lives, whatever our context may be, is the Lord’s “unfailing love”. God’s eyes are on those whose hope is in his unfailing love. That speaks of a hope that is contained within the very heart of God. It is a hope that draws you and me “into” the heart of the Lord, to know him, to be surrendered to him and to love him.
It is vain to look for hope in our surrounding circumstances, and, even more so, in our broken selves or in anyone else in this fallen world. In Christ alone is where true hope lodges. That, then, calls us to wait upon the Lord and to lay our souls down in surrender, letting go of all our imperious desires to have what we long for in our own time and on our own terms.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Yes, we all long for love; we all long to be tenderly cherished; we all need the wounds and hungers of our childhoods to be healed. But we must humbly look to him who alone can do this for us and wait for him to do it in his time and according to his plan. It is good for us to wait in hope for the Lord. The waiting is healthy. It prepares our hearts and draws us into unhurried intimacy with the Lord. It teaches us that being in his presence is more important than receiving his gifts. His presence is all I need – my hope is in him.
So, with all our flaws and longings, we come to the Lord who loves us and who is infinitely powerful, and we wait in hope. We trust in his holy name, by which he forms true righteousness in us, and, in the waiting, we find ourselves rejoicing – rejoicing in him; in the utter beauty and sufficiency of him in whom our whole hope is lodged. “May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Rob Taylor
Rob Taylor, 20/05/2020

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Christ Church Kenilworth  |  Cnr Summerley & Richmond Road  |  Tel: +27 (021) 797 6332  | E-mail: reception@cck.org.za
Service Times: Sunday Worship  8.00am, 10.00am & 6.30pm  |  Wednesday Service: 10am   | Tuesday Quiet Service: 6.30pm (fortnightly)

Taryn Galloway, 06/05/2015