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Hope Arise

(2 Chronicles 20: 1-30)

Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. (verse1)

Destruction was staring at King Jehoshaphat when he received the news. A great multitude was coming to make war with the tribe of Judah. Just a few months back, he was in a similar battle where he narrowly escaped with his life. Now this.  An impossibly inescapable situation. The odds were stacked against the people of God. The battle was about to break and the hearts of the people were in fear.  This is one of those moments when God reveals His strength and power in and through His people.  Defeat was sure, but certainly not with God.

King Jehoshaphat was afraid. But he refused to give in to fear. He’s been in similar situations before. He knew exactly what to do – he turned his face towards God. He called for a fast all throughout Judah. You don’t go hungry before a battle, do you? This is utter foolishness in the eyes of the enemy. But this is exactly where and how hope arises in the hearts of the humble totally dependent on God.

Hope is knowing that God gives power to the powerless.

There are times in life we feel like we are aimlessly drifting through a dark long tunnel without end. Sometimes we find ourselves pressed and pushed to a corner with no way out.  Crushed in all sides, we feel trapped and drained. If we allow it, fear will finally take us to the pit of helplessness and resignation.

Fear becomes real when we make it the ultimate reality. The people of God, however, have a far greater truth that confronts and silences fear. It may appear foolish to bend our knees and cry out to the heavens when we can already hear the bombs exploding and gunfire at a distance. Going to war with fasting is a sure recipe for defeat even before the battle starts. Yet Jehoshaphat turned his heart to seek the Lord and God answered. When we choose to turn toward Him, knowing that we are helpless, we are posturing ourselves to experience His power invading our hearts and circumstances.

The king stood in the assembly, full of faith, as he boldly recounted God’s history and covenant with His people. He remembered the battle where he could have gotten killed and how God delivered him. A horde pursued to kill him mistaking him for the king of Israel. But he cried to God and the Lord saved him. He knew his God. He had experienced His faithfulness through tough times. Knowing your God always position you to a place of hope. Remembering what He has done, your testimonies, others’ testimonies, will inspire you to desire more and believe for more.

Hope is remembering Who God is and our history with Him.

Hope allows us to see our situation from His perspective and through His faithfulness. Jehoshaphat anchored his hope in God and His covenant with His people that He had consistently displayed through His mighty deeds. Those who steward the testimonies of God and keep them close to their hearts, possess a deeper sense of hope and confidence. Even in the face of danger, nothing can change and challenge the faithfulness of God. This is the assurance and the bedrock of our victory.

Hope is standing our ground and fixing our eyes on God alone.

O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (verse12)

King Jehoshaphat shows us that in everything, perspective matters.  We don’t always know what to do but we can always keep our eyes fixed on God.  There are times when we have to wait for His instructions. There are times we have to take action because He has already spoken the Word.  At all times, we need to hear Him and see His face despite our external circumstances. King David said it this way, “One thing, I have asked of the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). The moment we see His face and hear His voice, our circumstances pale in the revelation of His greatness and glory. In life, what overwhelms us will shape us.  To cultivate hope, we have to turn our gaze to Him and be overwhelmed by His goodness.

Hope arise as we hear His Voice.

“Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. (verse15)

The Word of God releases faith and supernatural courage. War is at hand. There’s no other option but to face it. But first things first – seek the face of God. Through a prophet, God declared that the battle is His’ not theirs. Yet He wants them to witness it and be part of the unfolding of His faithfulness and power. “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out and face them, for the Lord is with you” (verse 17). This is hope, knowing that God was with them. Even when they are surrounded by the enemy or thrown in the fiercest battle, His presence surrounds them and the victory is guaranteed.

When the prophet finished speaking, the king and all of the people bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord.  The sons of Levites led all to sing praises to God with a loud voice.  Worship is both an act of surrender and celebration. Bowing down our hearts before the Almighty is a sign of humility and trust in who He is and acknowledging that He is all in all in our lives. Hope knows that once He has spoken, it is done!

Hope arise in the place of worship.

We can only arise in hope when we learn to bend our knees. Before His majesty and glory, we see our circumstances bow down to His will. Our battles are won first in the secret place where we surrender everything to the Victorious One. 

They went to war with the ‘praisers’ and worshippers at the forefront singing “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  Our greatest weapon of hope in the midst of impossible situation is knowing and declaring that He is good and His love endures forever. Fear has no place in the heart that is full of love and praises to Him Who is good and faithful.

Remember the wall of Jericho? A massive wall where 4 chariots can race on top, crumbled in a moment, not with a 21st century nuclear bomb, but with a shout from the people of God. The power of God was released in an act of obedience. They declared that God has given them the city, and so it was done.  Something supernatural happens when our prayers and our declarations are in alignment with the heart of God and His nature.

As the dust settled, there was not one single arrow shot nor swords unsheathed. It was God’s battle, indeed. The people of Judah arrived in the wilderness to see the enemies totally wiped out. The only job left was to collect the spoils of war.  To describe the spoils as too much is an understatement; it took them three days to collect anything of use or precious. Oftentimes, our abundance is made available when we choose to stand up and confront our circumstances armed with the goodness of God.

Hope arise when we turn our eyes on Him.

Hope arise when we bend our knees. 

Hope arise when we praise His name. 

Hope arise when we see God’s lovingkindness.

Let your hope arise.

Hope Alive

No one is exempted from crisis. In every stage of our life, we face some kind of crisis. Do I eat the one marshmallow now or wait so I can have two instead? The yellow shirt or the red one? A course in natural science or economics? Operation or chemotherapy.  Should I avail of the vaccine or should I wait for herd immunity? Oftentimes what we learn and who we become have been dramatically shaped and influenced by the crisis we go through. How we respond to them is crucial in navigating and thriving in life.

The COVID-19 pandemic has become more than just a global health issue. It brought about a very extensive dilemma that’s disrupting and shaking institutions, economies, and governments to the core. Most individuals now have faced or are facing prolonged isolation and disconnection due to quarantine rules and travel bans.  The uncertainty brought by this crisis marked an increase in suicide rate as more people are prone to suffer mental health issues as anxiety and fear permeate their everyday existence.

Where threat, fear and tragedy become the norm of life, hopelessness thrives.

Our sense of harmony and peace is always connected to our ability to be in control. We always feel safe inside our own bubble.  When we lose control over our situation and the solution is nowhere to be found, we feel helpless. When we feel helpless, hopelessness follows.

Hopelessness kills. It dulls our creativity, dampens our passion, stifle our faith and sabotages our freedom.

Ultimately, we feel imprisoned and become a victim of our circumstance. It’s a hard place to be in unless our heart attitude and perspective change. Hopelessness, like a dark cloud, engulfs us and causes our perspective to skew towards what could go wrong, instead of to hope – to have a positive expectation that something will turn out right. 

Hope is more than a wish

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Commonly, our understanding of hope is synonymous to wish. It is to wish for, to expect a fulfillment of a desire. Its strength is in the person’s intensity of desiring. However, biblical hope is different. It is the confident expectation of what God has promised therefore its strength is in His faithfulness.

Hope makes us alive. While hopelessness kills our reason for living, hope empowers us to live it out. Our faith soars where our hope flourishes. So, whatever happens we have to cultivate hope. The starting point is, hope in the LORD!

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 43:5

Nowadays, people tend to desire, desire, desire, get, get, get. Social media, sadly, has become the platform for this unending ‘wishing’ frenzy as insecurity, jealousy and pride escalate.  FOMO, the fear-of-missing-out pushes people to the place of utter discouragement and disillusionment. When our hope is anchored in what we desire, what we are planning to do, what we wish to happen, we are bound to experience sickness of the heart. It is the kind of hope with an empty assurance, an expectation void of faith.

True hope on the other hand is one that’s anchored on God – in His nature. Our God is faithful and true to His promises. We hope not in the things that we see or what we are able to control but on things that are eternal, on God Himself.

From a sick heart to tree of life

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

From this verse we understand that having our desires fulfilled is a matter of delighting in God first – making Him our greatest desire and devotion. And our desires that are rooted in God, once fulfilled, become a life-giving tree (Proverbs 13:12) for others. Our stories, testimonies and history with God are the fruits of the tree from which others can feed on and find their healing from their struggles of helplessness and hopelessness. Once I heard from a person I respect, “The person with the greatest hope is the person with the most influence.” At the end of the day, we influence others to the measure of our hope.

Christ is our Hope

Finally, hope is not just a mere optimistic expectation. Hope is a person- Jesus Christ.  Paul exhorts us that there is a mystery hidden for ages but now is revealed: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). With this truth we are assured that our present-future is glorious despite the challenges and uncertainties ahead. Our hope is anchored in the Eternal Christ.  With this reality, we can be instruments of glory in the midst of this darkness and our God-stories become life-giving fruits for others who are hungry and desperate to taste and see God’s goodness. Our lives filled with hope can become a beacon pointing others to the Eternal Hope, Jesus.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

You in Christ

Embracing our true identity guarantees living in a new reality. Paul wrote several times in his epistles to the churches about the life that we, the believers, ought to live before God and before the world – we are ‘in Him’ and ‘Christ is in us’. For God, there is no other way He will ever treat us and relate to us but in and through Christ alone.  

Here are some of the reasons: God has accomplished His Eternal Purpose in Christ (Ephesians 3:11), in Him He chose us before the foundation of time (Ephesians 1:4) and our lives are hidden in Him (Colossians 3:3) and that in Christ we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

Jesus talked of this reality to His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. He told them to “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4). There is no other way to live our Kingdom life but to always abide in Him. We can never experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God apart from remaining in Christ – in spirit, in consciousness, in desire, in heart and in an organic, living and intimate way. As for the Father, what is true with His Beloved Son is true of us because we are in Christ. It is therefore illegal for us to ever think of any thoughts or imagine ourselves contrary to God’s intent and love towards Jesus Christ. 

In John 17, Jesus closed with this statement packed with great revelation, “I have declared to them Your Name and will declare it, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”  Jesus declared the Name of God to them- ‘Abba’ Father. And He promised to continually declare (reveal) it to them. God is so much a Father to us as He is to Jesus. And because of this, the perfect love of the Father towards His Beloved Son is toward all of us His children – in the same depth, measure and intent. Pause for a while and meditate on that one. Our finite mind could only infer the surface of this revelation of the Father’s great love to us. 

And because of this love, Christ resides in our innermost being by the Holy Spirit. No wonder Paul prayed, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19). The Father’s Love is the master key to experiencing the fullness of His Glory.

Don’t Lose HOPE

The reality that we are most aware of and constantly engaged with, will be the one that we will live in.  This visible realm and the affairs happening around us are all temporary. Jesus lived here on earth FROM the realm of the invisible where there are no sicknesses, storms, scarcity, shame, and sorrows – the realm of heaven. He faced every situation and circumstance with heaven’s reality. He taught us to pray to our Father Who is IN heaven that His Kingdom (His dominion, rule, and reign) will come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is our inheritance and commission as children of the King; to co-labor with Him in our prayers and to bring down heaven’s superior influence to earth’s needs.

Paul the apostle ministered with an awareness that whatever happened around him (prison, persecution, shipwreck, flogging, demonic attacks, rejection, hunger, etc.) only works towards the unveiling of greater glory. As believers, this is our unchanging and unshakeable reality as well. And no matter what may come, the Christ Who is IN US is the Hope of GLORY and His glory is being revealed through us more and more.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of GLORY, while we do not look at things which are seen, but at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are TEMPORARY, but the things which are not seen are ETERNAL.”

– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV –