Christian Living · Free

OF UNDERDOGS AND HOPE

 

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An excerpt from Judges 6:1-16

The wind blew gently and ruffled the leaves of the Terebinth oak. The oak belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son, the least in his father’s house, stood beside it threshing wheat in the wine press. It was a difficult time for the Israelites in Ophrah, they faced great oppression from the Midianites who occupied their camps and devoured their harvests every time the Israelites had sown. They were left with no sustenance. The young man worked quickly, he threshed the wheat in the wine press in order to hide it from the Midianites.

Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak. His voice resonating with assurance and confidence, spoke to him

The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valour!

The man looked up, he could not bring himself to quite truly believe what he had heard and he protested in reply

If the Lord is truly with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles our fathers told us about saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt’ the thing is, God has nothing to do us, he has turned us over to the Midianites.

So the Angel of the Lord turned and faced him directly

Go in this might that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Have I not sent you?

The young man was taken aback. He replied in disbelief

Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house

But the Lord reassured him,

Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man

They would later say of Gideon, God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.

Gideon was an underdog, coming from the weakest clan and the runt of the litter in his father’s house, he was chosen by God to drive out the Midianites and free the Israelites from oppression. From a world view, Gideon was a nobody who came from a nothing clan, there was nothing extraordinary about Gideon. I love Gideon’s story because it is a story of hope. A story that defies the norms of culture. Normally we expect that the people called into service by God will be extraordinary, but throughout the Bible we see God using every day normal people in circumstances that defy the odds. This goes to show that we don’t always need a theology degree to be used or a mastery of all books in the Bible to serve, God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

When God finally layed out the plan that was to save the Israelites, he used 300 farmers and shepherds to fight over 100,000 well-trained and seasoned soldiers. Gideon could have easily backed out of that plan, but he had a hope. He had an assurance that God would deliver the Israelites. Whichever way of deliverance God would choose to use, Gideon was steadfast in the promise that God would come through for him and His people. And God surely did.

THE FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE

1st Peter 1:3-5

NKJV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I have been thinking about hope lately, about its essence, its worth. What hope means for Christians. Sure, I don’t have it all figured out but throughout the week what has come alive for me is the assurance of hope. Hope for Christians, (let’s call it Christian hope), is not a hope-so kind of thing. It is a know-so hope. Normally when we are having a conversation, let’s say for instance about a football team, we will say something like, ‘I hope the team wins.’ In that context, we are not really sure about the win, we are expecting a good result but there is room for disappointment.0f562e52056ff39d7f7cfd62569089fb

When you read the word hope in the bible, like say from Hebrews 6:19-20

This hope that we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek ( NKJV)

The hope being talked about is definitely not wishful thinking.  It is not, ‘I don’t know what is going to happen, but I hope it happens’. This is a hope that Jesus is asking us to bank on. A hope that is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. The thing about anchors is that they represent a solidness. Anchors allow vessels to be stable and still even during a storm. This is the kind of assuredness that hope brings to our souls that makes it so different from hope that is wishful thinking. This is hope that is banked on Jesus and cannot be wavered. Christian hope is when God has assured us of a promise and us in turn putting our trust in that promise.  It is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has put a promise on it. Hope comes from the promises of God rooted in the work of Christ.

THE ESSENCE OF HOPE

John 16:33

NKJV

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The bible talks about how in this world we will face trials, which we certainly will. There will be times when we feel afraid, when things are not working out, when the bills pile up and the pain is unbearable. In these times, we have hope that is secure in Jesus. Hope that God is able to do just what he said he will do. Comfort for all those who mourn, beauty for ashes, sight for the blind and life in abundance among so many other promises. Hope in Jesus allows us to be of good cheer. If our future is not secured and satisfied by God then we end up being excessively anxious. If we don’t have the hope that Christ is for us we end up being engaged in self-preservation. This takes away our thoughtfulness for other people and we can’t even truly love and care for other people. In hope, we are not preoccupied with taking care of ourselves, we are secure in having Jesus take the wheel.

When we let God take care of us, and rest in his promises, whether its ten minutes from now or ten years from now, we are free to love other people and become the people God has called us to be. Hope allows us to function. In hope, we become satisfied in Jesus so deeply then God becomes manifest for all to see because then we can love like Jesus, live like Jesus, speak like Jesus and see like Jesus. Which is what the Christian life is all about. To give God glory.

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Images: Courtesy

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