By Frank Santora, Crosswalk.com
Are you a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” kind of person?
It seems to me that some of us are genetically wired to be “half full” people; we have this tendency to look on the bright side of things and be full of hope. And some of us aren’t. Some of us see hopelessness in every situation, no matter what.
These people can see a single cloud against the backdrop of a completely blue sky, and are convinced a storm is coming. They start to cough and immediately diagnose themselves with pneumonia, or feel a slight pang in the chest and call 911 declaring, “I’m having a heart attack!” It almost seems as if some of us are genetically linked to that famous character from Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, who says things like “Thanks for noticing me....” Now that’s a hopeless existence!
True, our natural ability to hope is often affected by our life experiences. Some people have had a tougher life than others, and are therefore generally less hopeful. They see the glass of water as half empty because that is what they have experienced before.
Most of us probably fall somewhere in between. That is, our current circumstances will dictate where our hope “meter” points. If things are going good in life, our hope meter runs high; if things are not so good, the hope meter runs low.
We All Find Ourselves in Need of Hope
No matter what your genetic predisposition may be, what your life experience has been or what you are currently going through, everyone faces seasons in life where the hope meter gets dangerously low, and may even flatline.
Remember the prophet Elijah, when he ran and hid in a cave (1 Kings 19:9-10), complaining to God that he was the only true servant of God left on the earth? Has hopelessness ever made you feel like you’re the only one? Or felt as if no one could possibly understand?
Remember Moses, when he killed the Egyptian in anger, and fled in fear to the backside of a mountain for 40 years (Exodus 2:12-15)? Has hopelessness ever made you feel like you just want to run away and hide, and leave your problems behind?
And what about Peter, when he watched Jesus being crucified from a distance? His hope meter crashed so quickly that he quit the ministry and went back to the mundane existence he had as a fishermen before Jesus. Has hopelessness ever made you give up on your dream, or the ministry God has called you to?
The Enemy Wants to Steal Our Hope
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a).
There's a popular saying that goes, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air...but only one second without hope.” We seem to recognize that stealing a man’s hope will remove his will to live. And that is why the enemy wants to steal our hope – to kill our dreams and destroy our lives.
I once read about a little town in Maine named Flagstaff, which had been slated to be flooded as part of the construction of a large lake and dam project. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the town stopped. What was the use of repainting buildings that would be soon be covered with water? Why repair anything, anywhere, when the village was going to be wiped off the map? So week by week, the appearance of the town became more and more bedraggled, more “gone to seed,” more “woebegone” than before. Why? Because “where there is no faith in the future there is no power in the present.”
Steal a man’s hope and snuff out his life; but give a man hope, and watch him defy even the greatest of odds.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Sigital Skillet
God's Hope Is Audacious!
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5).
God offers a different kind of hope than the hope people often latch onto. It is bold, daring, original, and supernatural! Whenever we judge a situation or a person to be “hopeless,” we are slamming the door in the face of God, ignoring His unmatched ability to bring hope and a future into a situation, regardless of what the circumstances look like in the natural. But the audacity of Godly hope is found throughout Scripture.
Abraham found it after 90 long years of struggle, when he hoped for a son even when there was no natural reason to hope (Genesis 17).
Paul talked about it also:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
David possessed it, when in the midst of a fear-stricken Israel, he said, “I’ll go out and fight the giant” (1 Samuel 17:32).
Hannah Was an Audacious Hoper
Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 1-18. Now, you can read the official version for yourself, but let me give you my Cliff Notes:
Hannah was married to a guy named Elkanah, and she had captured his heart. Their marriage began like most marriages, with the promise of a life of happiness and the expectation of little ones brightening their lives, which was a big deal in ancient times.
In fact, many believed that the more children you had, the greater God’s blessing was on your life. And if you had no children, that meant you had been cursed by God. So Hannah and her husband intended to have lots of kids.
But as time went on, people would ask Hannah and Elkanah when they were going to have their first bundle of joy and they would say, We’re trying. They watched Hannah’s sisters have kids, and Elkanah's brothers build more rooms on their homes to house growing families. Eventually the friendly questions became backbiting whispers, because it appeared that Hannah had been cursed with barrenness.
So, like Abraham and Sarah, they took matters into their own hands and followed the custom of the day which was, if a woman could not have children, her husband could take a second wife by whom he could have children. (This was just a custom, not something God sanctioned.)
So Elkanah married a second wife name Peneniah, who began having kids immediately. She soon realized that Elkanah loved Hannah, and that the only reason she was in the picture was to produce children. She was, understandably, upset. So in retaliation, she relentlessly mocked Hannah’s for her barrenness, and made Hannah's life miserable.
Even though Hannah was clearly her husband's favorite, and she had all the privileges of marriage without the risks and responsibilities of children, barrenness was more than she could bear. In the midst of her own private hell, she went to the Temple to worship God anyway.
Even though it appeared like God wasn’t answering her prayer.
Even though the culture said she was cursed.
Even though, every time she went up to the Temple, Peneniah would mock her and remind her that she herself was blessed with so many children.
Even though Hannah had no earthly reason to worship God, she went up to the Temple regularly to worship anyway.
That’s audacious hope. That’s hope that says, God’s not dead! That’s hope that has a confident expectation in an all-powerful God who is at work to redeem every evil circumstance, turn it around and bring good out of it for His children. It's hope that has the audacity to worship God in the face of the enemy's attempt to kill, steal and destroy our lives.
And I want to encourage you, too – keep worshipping!
Photo credit: Pexels/Victor Freitas
Godly Hope Has the Audacity to Keep Praying
“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:10).
It's true, hopelessness often steals our desire to pray. It says, Why bother? I've prayed and prayed and it seems like God isn’t answering. But without going to God in prayer we are already defeated. Jesus encouraged us to be persistent when we pray in order to experience breakthrough.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
The prophet Daniel continued his prayer for 21 days, even though he did not get a response immediately. The angel of the Lord sent to him explained the delay:
“Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia’” (Daniel 10:12-13).
Hope has the audacity to keep on praying because it knows there is a fight to be won. So keep praying, because delays are not denials!
Godly Hope Is Extraordinary
Hannah's desire for a child was so strong that any ordinary, healthy kid would do. As she wept in the Temple and worshipped, she prayed the following audacious prayer:
“And she made a vow, saying, ‘O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head’" (1 Samuel 1:11).
Now God had something more in store for Hannah than giving birth to an ordinary child. He wanted to bless Hannah, and all of Israel, with the powerful prophet Samuel, of whom it was said:
“The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19).
Audacious hope often receives supernatural, audacious answers! Keep on praying, because God’s delays are not denials, and His “no’s” are simply because He has a better “yes” in mind. Remember God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).
“Eli (the priest) answered ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ ...Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1 Samuel 1:17-18).
And with that, something changed for Hannah. She went from being full of anxiety to being calm, from sorrow to joy, and from doubt to trust. Her immediate circumstances hadn’t changed, but her countenance had. She had the peace of God, and her audacious hope turned into an expectation of God's supernatural, audacious answer! Here is the best Scriptural proof I can think of (including my personal translation!)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving [have the audacity to praise God anyhow...and to keep on praying], present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding [it can’t be explained, I can’t tell you how it works and why it works...but I can tell you it works], will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [it will become an impregnable barrier around your life]” (Philippians 4:6-8).
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ksenija18kz
Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.