Hoping against hope. Have you ever hoped for something? And I don’t mean something little. I mean something that you really wanted. Going even a step further, have you hoped for something that God has promised you? Maybe, the man who will become your husband to walk into your life. The baby that you have prayed for. The promotion that you hoped for at work. That dream that you had.
The hope that leaves you thinking But God… I thought you said…and I had faith, but look at where I am now.
It gets worse when you keep hoping, and waiting, and the waiting goes on, and on, and on some more. And now your faith wavers more, as someone really close to you says Well things don’t really look so great now do they?
So a week or so ago I was waiting for an answer on something. What I was waiting for was something I really wanted. Really hoped for, for a lot of reasons. But as I was waiting, my anticipation of an answer, became the expectation that the answer was a no. There was a hope that it would be yes, but in all honestly, I was expecting the no.
What does hoping against hope mean?
And sometimes that is what happens with hope. It is like when you make a birthday wish, and it feels really exciting at first, but then as time goes on and the wish doesn’t come to pass, the wish kind of looses it’s excitement, and you begin to believe you won’t get your wish. Side note: I have actually never put a ton of weight into birthday wishes, but for those who have, I imagine this is how it feels.
And so when the email came through with the yes, my reaction was “I am in disbelief right now”. And I will be the first to tell you that my response was not faith-filled, but flat-out disbelief that the answer was indeed yes.
In Romans it talks about how Abraham “hoped against hope”, and I realized that this was not what I had done. When you hope against hope there is no room for disbelief. When you hope against hope, when you sit in expectancy (instead of disbelief), it doesn’t matter what you circumstances are, you keep walking in faith.
No, I wasn’t hoping against hope. I was hoping against disbelief. There was still the question of if He is who He says He is. There was still question on if He could move mountains, and part the seas, feed the 5000, and turn water into the best wine. And if He could do more than I could ever ask or imagine, and really worked for my good.
But if I wasn’t hoping against hope, what would it mean if I were to do that?
Romans 4:18 Paul writes:
In hope against hope, he (Abraham) believed so that he might become a father of many nations according to which had been spoken SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.
Hope- elpis: the expectation of good. Joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.
Abraham was old. God had promised him a son, but as time went on, by worldy possibility, it became less and less possible for him and Sara to be able to conceive a child, due to their age. He was hoping for something that was becoming more and more impossible (I mean how many 100 years olds do you know who have had a baby recently?).
If I was Abraham, I probably would have lost hope pretty quickly after “advanced maternal age” set in. But this guy didn’t.
And he didn’t just have a flicker of hope. He didn’t have a hope that was shadowed with disbelief. He had hope that was backed with hope, the expectation of good. And in that hope, he believed that God would provide what had been promised. And he believed/expected SO THAT, God’s promise would come to pass.
He was fully aware of what was going on. He knew his body was “as good as dead”, and so was his wife’s womb, and yet he faced this without his faith weakening. Paul even says that Abraham’s faith was strengthened (hmmm, kind of the opposite of that dying birthday wish) even as he faced reality, because he didn’t waver in unbelief at the promise of God. He knew God had the power to do what He had promised.
Let me tell you what happens when God makes a promise. The impossible becomes possible, but only because He is a God of His word. Promise keeper.
What does it look like to hope against hope?
When we hope against hope, it looks like fully knowing that He is God and His word will never return void, because it’s impossible.
When we hope against hope we can look back and say “I knew you would work it all out. I believed you.”, instead of sitting in disbelief when He comes through.
When you hope against hope, it means that you leave no room for God to not be God. It means to praise God with both hands, instead of praising Him with one, and holding on to the things that are not of Him (fear, disbelief, insecurity, lack of trust, lack of faith).
What are you waiting for?
Don’t leave room for anything but a posture of hoping against hope. An unwavering faith. A faith that is strengthened as you wait because you know God’s promise will come to pass. Stand firm, because you know who your God is. Faithful and true. Unchanging. And able to do more than you can ever ask or imagine.