So, 2012 is finally here! Many of us are hopeful that this year will awaken new beginnings, a fresh opportunity to make things right. Others might be hopeful that this new year will reflect the hard work invested in the previous one, bearing the fruits of their labor. Some of us may not be hopeful at all, consumed with the devastation brought about by trials and tragedies, and now left to pick up the pieces. I often see people bitter towards hope after enduring a track record of failures as well. But, it is time to set the record straight. Scripture states, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
We might be hindering the flow of hope into our hearts because we simply(but so significantly) are not engaging in true communion with God. If we are feeding on the vital nutrients of God's promises as expressed through His word, our hearts will reveal it, pumping joy and hope through the veins of a true believer. If we have abandoned hope, it is time to start off this new year on the right foot, a foot firmly planted on solid foundation. Ask yourself the following: Do I truly believe that Jesus is Lord and that He came to this earth in the form of man to shed light upon our darkened state, to offer us grace, and to provide repentance, washing away our iniquity? Do I believe that He died so that we might have life, not merely to get by, but to live abundantly? Do I believe that through His suffering here on earth He was the perfect sacrifice, identifying with our weakness, pain, and temptation? Do I believe He is our eternal High Priest, interceding on our behalf, our prayers and supplications made known to the Father through Him? Do I believe He conquered the grave so that we would have eternal life and no longer fear the sting of death? Do I believe He is the perfect role model of whom we should emulate and the very core of our existence?
Prayerfully, you responded the affirmative to these questions as they are the building blocks of our faith. If not, pray that the Lord will reveal to you the purpose and plan of His salvation. We must lay hold of these truths and be cognizant of who Christ is in our lives if we have any shot at nurturing true joy and true hope. When our faith is questioned due to our lack of understanding or belief, we can become jaded, which squelches the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The psalmist, King David, states, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit" (Psalm 51:12). King David was living momentarily apart from joy after committing a covetous act of sin against another man and his wife, Bathsheba. Instead of continuing to seek temporary gratification, he sought restoration of true joy, the joy of salvation! This gift is offered to us by the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When we truly understand the depth of love that went into God's redemptive plan, we should be filled with joy and hope! The two work hand in hand because a joyful heart hopes for and is expectant to receive God's grace and goodness as promised throughout the Scriptures.
King David also understood that putting on an attitude of joy in turn stirs hope in the hearts of those who don't yet know the love of God. He professes that it is not until the Lord restores the joy of his salvation that he can teach transgressors His ways. He states, "Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You" (Psalm 51:13). This suggests that in order to be a good witness, we must practice what we preach. Why would anyone care to hear what we have to say about the Lord if we constantly nag about our troubles or wear a look of disappointment daily? It is only when we identify with the true joy of salvation that the outward manifestation of God's glory will be revealed through us.
Sometimes it helps to take a step back to examine where we are in relation to where we were this previous year. Despite a divorce, losing a job and/or home, or grieving the loss of a loved one, you are still standing! This means God still has a "future and hope" in mind for you. So, pray that the Lord will restore to you the joy of His salvation. He will uphold you by His generous Spirit this new year. Do not bury your hope because of indifference to God's truth. May your hope be the mirror image of the joy that's born out of walking in the fullness of Christ!