When hope gets a beating

Red Run blog – Encouragement on the Way

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31) was the key thought in Blue Run, where we talked about how God is lifegiving, in other words, God is always at work putting His life back into us and in that way, renewing us where daily, earthly 'life' has caused wear and misalignment.

How are we doing doing? A lot of that depends on how confident we are, and whether our confidence is rightly placed.

Breaking experience

When I was setting out in a previous career I was ambitious, good at what i did and confident – mainly in myself. It took a lasting, breaking experience to change my focus and put my confidence in the One who can't be shaken or broken. God didn't cause this – let's be clear about that. But He allowed it, and in His way turned what was intended for harm – life-sapping – into what was lifegiving, as I found God and found hope.

To know God intimately, we all need to be broken to our own confidence.

For me that is a big story. But there are micro-stories that happen to each of us every week or even every day, where God allows a stumbling experience and speaks into it, inviting us to turn to Him, to reconnect in the confident expectation of hope, and be renewed.

How does that work? We are in a battle. We have an active enemy with a strategy. That strategy is not simply to oppose us and stop us – we'd see that coming and take evasive action. No, the strategy is slightly more developed than that, although predictable. It is to get us weary and discouraged. It is to get us into a mindset, not of hope, but hopelessness. It is intended to soften us up for the lie, the thought planted in our head, that says "This is the way it always goes for you".

So that's one voice, volume turned up, telling you that you're a loser, that you deserve what comes, and inviting you to compare yourself unfavourably with others.

radios

There's another voice and it's like having another radio tuned to a different station. It is not strident and so it is easily ignored. This is a quieter more gentle voice which is not telling you so much as reminding you: that you are an overcomer, you share in a victory... reminding you who you are, who you belong to, taking you back to the Cross and into the Way of Jesus beyond. Who do you listen to? The strident one that bullies you and demands your attention? Or the quiet one that gently reminds you? The problem is the quiet one is giving you a comfortable message, a familiar message – reassuring and true and lifegiving but we are conditioned to take more notice of the attention-grabbing messages. The advertising hoarding that screams at us. The TV commercial, packed with arresting imagery. The splash headline on the front of the paper.

It's not easy to hear God when everything is kicking off – it takes practice. But just as a musician can pick out their own instrument in a full orchestra, so we can tune in to the voice that reinforces the lifegiving, strengthening hope we have in God through our walk with Jesus.