One of the biggest things God has been challenging me with in this last season is what it looks like to have hope for every situation and every person. It’s easy to have hope for a sprained ankle to be healed or for the dreams to come true for a positive, hardworking individual. But what about the back that’s had three surgeries and hundreds of people pray for it? What about the individual who hasn’t had a job for four years and is constantly drinking because they wholeheartedly believe they are an alcoholic? Or the individual who struggles to make friends, always talks about how hard life is and doesn’t believe they are worth anything? What does it look like to have hope for every person and every circumstance?
It’s my conviction that we are called to not only have hope for the situations that are “not that bad” or for specific people who are brimming with potential, but to have hope for the situations and the people who are hopeless. And when I say someone or something is hopeless, I don’t mean there is no hope for them. What I mean is that they are currently living without hope. They are currently a hopeful creation of God who is running on empty. You see a swimming pool is still a swimming pool whether it is filled with water or not and every human being is created to be hopeful – full of hope, whether their hope tank is full or not. The only trouble is some have become so disconnected from the source they are fully convinced that there is no available source and therefore they have been created to be empty. So it’s my belief that every hopeless individual or situation is an empty swimming pool waiting to be filled.
About a month ago I met an intoxicated man who was convinced he was an alcoholic. We were sitting on the side of a busy street in Redding California and the more the man shared about his situation, the clearer it became that his biggest challenge was not his circumstances, but his hopelessness about his circumstances. He had no hope that things could ever change and in doing so had become blinded to all possible options sitting within reach of him that would bring this desired change. I asked if I could share a few thoughts and I proceeded to share the thought that he might not actually be an alcoholic, that he might actually be a righteous man of integrity and self control who has accidentally ended up believing otherwise. I then took the moment to address the heart of the issue by looking him in the eyes and repeating in different ways that regardless of what he is facing, there was always hope. That if there was one thing Jesus paid for, it was that there would be no situation more hopeless, than the hope his resurrection provided. He voluntarily decided to pour out the rest of his bottle and I gave him a ride home. I don’t know exactly how he is doing today but one thing I do know is there is hope that he could be the happiest man living a life of not only joy but also self control.
But before you go running out the door to release hope on every man and his dog, I ask you to consider a thought that I feel God has been showing me and that is, having hope for others is not limited to, but it does start out with having hope for myself. You see Matthew 7:5 says to not to be a hypocrite and to pull the log of wood out of your own eye before pulling the spec of wood out of your brother’s. This is not a rule but a principal (right most the time) that having hope for others starts off by having hope for ourselves. Of course to say we can’t see others filled with hope until we have hope would be nullifying the very core nature of the gospel but what I am trying to highlight is the value of starting at home and starting with the life God put in your hand before anyone else’s. Yes you can release hope in any given moment and in any given situation; A price has been paid to ensure that is an option. But from my experience, if you are actually going to do that, if you’re actually going to strive to release hope in any and every given opportunity, you are going to have to take care of the plank of wood in your own eye first. To have hope for your city may be more tied with having hope for yourself than you might think.
I want to finish with this. Romans 13:9 says we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Most believers have such a high value for love that if they were told they could leave only one mark on every person they meet, most would probably be more than happy if the mark was a mark of love. But I would like to propose there are different levels of love. One of the best ways to understand this is to look at God’s description of love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 specifically illustrates what His love is to look like and in verse 7 (NIV) it says that “love always hopes.” I have found this to be particularly profound as what I feel it is saying is that true love, the Love that led Jesus to lay down his life for us, is a love that always has hope. In other words, to truly love our neighbor we need to have hope for them, what ever the cycle, situation or circumstance they are in. Whether they are a long term addict, in a marriage that has fallen apart, never been married and wants to, never had a best friend but wants one, wants to lose weight but keeps gaining it, wants to be a financial support to their community but can’t get out of debt. What ever their situation, love looks like looking them in the eye and believing that through the power of the gospel it is possible to see a complete change and saying to them from the bottom of your heart that there is hope, releasing the flow of heaven over them. To love as Jesus did, is to have hope for every person and ever circumstance.
It’s not easy, I can tell you that for free, and it’s not going to happen by accident, but I’m willing to pay the price so that everyday, with every person God puts in front of me, I am willing to stretch myself and my understanding of how powerful God’s hope is in order to grow more and more what it means to be a hope filled revivalist who has hope for every situation and every person.
Josh is a registered electrician in New Zealand and a recent third year graduate at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. Described by some as an enigma, he has a high value for integrity, purity, efficiency and has a genuine love for all people that is displayed in his day to day life.