Last night, Pastor Laurence brought an amazing word to the 5pm and 7pm services of Heart Church. In the message, “Whilst We Wait,” we focused on the character of Zechariah as revealed in Luke 1.
This sermon both challenged and humbled many in a myriad of ways.
Pastor Laurence pointed out in verse 20, when Zechariah is struck mute, that the angel Gabriel said “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” (emphasis added)
Here is where I could entirely sympathize with and feel compassion towards Zechariah because I saw, and still see, so much of myself in him.
In the words of the Pastor, “Zechariah knew that God could, but had stopped believing He would.”
For a man introduced in the Scriptures as being righteous in the sight of God (Luke 1:6) to struggle with the very thing I do hit me like a ton of bricks.
Oh, I know God is powerful. I know He is mighty beyond comprehension. I know that He is a good, good Father. I know and believe that God is great and able.
I know all of these things, and yet I still struggle to hold onto hope. Hope that God will do what I know He has promised to do.
You see, if I can’t wrap my head around it or if something doesn’t happen in my time-frame, doubt begins to creep into this damaged little heart.
“I just knew this was going to happen.”
“I should’ve known better than to hope this had finally happened.”
“Why did I let myself get excited? Now look at the state of things.”
I have allowed the abrasive hand of time and fear to scar my heart and steal my hope. Basically, I have spoken death into a situation that for years I have believed to be possible, but not probable.
Here we go again with transparent living. Last night resonated with me in two major aspects of my life:
- My dad’s cancer
- My future spouse
I know those things are on two totally different plateaus but these are things that are very real and important to my heart.
My spirit believes that the God I serve is still Jehovah Rapha, the great healer. I also believe that God is Jehovah Jireh, the God who sees and will see to it.
But much like Zechariah, I have allowed fear to rob me of hope.
Perhaps today you find yourself in a similar situation. You know God’s character is true and His promises are sure, but when it comes to hoping you just harden your heart. It’s easier to predict disappointment and live in that mentality than it is to live in the uncertainty of hope.
Like Pastor Laurence said last night, we too often base our hope on feelings.
We allow the capricious, unpredictable medium of feelings to control our hope in a stable, unchanging God. We filter our thinking through the ridiculous sentiment of “Well, if it hasn’t happened yet, it just won’t ever happen.”
All through the 7pm, I felt the Holy Spirit breathing on me, encouraging me to trust in Him and His perfect timing. I had such a mighty, intimate encounter with God and it was one of the most precious experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Right after that, however, while I was sitting on the bus home I began to allow that same old doubt to weasel its way into my divine encounter.
“Yes, that’s fine and all, Ashley but where’s the proof? How can you be sure that this isn’t just another foundationless hope.”
This process of thinking quickly landed me in a pit of discouragement and tears. How can I encounter the God of Miracles one moment and then the next allow the enemy of my soul to reclaim territory I had just given to my Father?
Psalm 42 opens with an image of a man is such desperate pursuit of God that its as if his soul thirsts for God as a deer thirsts for water in a drought. That insatiable, burning desire to be fulfilled.
This psalm also closes with a repetition of verse 5 with the declaration “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him”.
I can almost track the psalmist’s dawn of understanding when it comes to securing hope in our lives.
Hope can only be found in and secured by the moment-by-moment turning of our eyes to God and our chasing after Him with praise and faith.
When we turn our attention from our finite understanding of our circumstances and rest in the assurance that God is true and will fulfill all that He has promised, we can begin to develop our hope again.
Hope cannot exist in the absence of praise. Why don’t we fill the heavens with our praise of who God is rather than focusing on what we cannot understand and cannot fix? Sing to the Lord a new song and refuse to be cast down and without hope.
He is so incredibly good to us, and we are called to live in the freedom of His vast grace. Throw off your chains of doubt and fear, and trust. Trust that the God who knows how many hairs are on your head and who knew you before time has a plan to prosper you and not to harm.
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.