Hope: be hope-filled not hopeless

Hope (expectation): Tikvah (Strong’s 8615b)

Root: תִּקְוָ֥ה (tav, qof, vav, hey)

I recently completed the Canadian Mental Health First Aid course which included a very detailed session on depression. One of the key symptoms of depression is a feeling of hopelessness. Depression is not a modern phenomenon. The Tanakh is filled with individuals suffering from great despair, including Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:6-8), Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:2, Eccl. 4:2-4), Jonah (Jonah 4:3), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14,18).

Feeling Hopeless?

Perhaps the Biblical person most open about his depression is Job. Tested and tormented he dives into the depths of despair and wishes he was never born:

Job 3:14

Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?

He ponders the meaning of life:

Job 7:1a, 3-6

“Is not man forced to labor on earth… so am I allotted months of meaninglessness, and nights of trouble are appointed to me. When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’, but the night continues, and I am continually tossing until dawn. My flesh is clothed with worms and a crust of dirt, my skin hardens and runs. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to an end without hope.

Job’s depression has manifested physically. He cannot sleep, his body feels awful, and the days fly by in a hopeless loop. He contemplates the weariness of life and the finality of death:

Job 14:1-2, 7, 10, 13-14

“Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain…

…For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again and its shoots will not fail… But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he?… Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, that You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, that You would set a limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes.”

Finally Job has reached his breaking point, he gives up and waits for death:

Job 17:1, 15-16

My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished. The grave is ready for me… And where now is my hope? And as for my hope who shall see it? Will it go down with me to Sheol? Shall we together go down into the dust?

Job is clearly in gut-wrenching pain! But throughout all that pain he holds on to the belief that the all-powerful God remembers him. God does remember him. Seeing Job through his suffering, YHWH rewards him doubly:

Job 42:10, 17

YHWH restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and YHWH increased all that Job had twofold… And [when the time came] Job died, an old man and full of days.

Hope2

Where should you place your hope?

King David, himself not immune to feelings of despair (Psalm 6:6-7), holds fast that God is his hope:

Psalm 62:5-8

My soul, wait in silence for God only,

           For my hope is from Him.

     He only is my rock and my salvation,

           My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

     On God my salvation and my glory rest;

           The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

     Trust in Him at all times, O people;

           Pour out your heart before Him;

           God is a refuge for us.

Seeking wisdom is insurance for your hope!

Wisdom plays a key part in finding hope. According to the sayings of the wise, if you find wisdom you will have hope and a future:

Proverbs 24:13-14

My son, eat honey, for it is good,

           Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;

     So shall the knowledge of wisdom be for your soul;

           If you find it, then there will be a future,

           And your hope will not be cut off.

Trust in God’s Covenant, seek wisdom, and put your hope in the consistency of God.

Hope for your future!

Jeremiah, sometimes called “the weeping prophet”, lived in a tumultuous age. He saw the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and the destruction of the Temple, built by Solomon. Personally, throughout his ministry, he was, beaten (Jer.20:2), mocked (Jer. 20:7), his life was threatened (Jer. 11:21) and he was thrown into a cistern and left to die (Jer. 38:1-6) . It is no wonder that scholars call him “the weeping prophet”, but God specifically tells Jeremiah to stop crying because good is coming:

Jeremiah 31:16a, 17a

Thus says YHWH,

           “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded,” declares YHWH…“There is hope for your future,” declares YHWH.

YHWH instructs His followers to hold back their tears, for His followers will be rewarded. And when it comes to hopelessness YHWH’s pattern is to reward double (Job 42:10,  Zechariah 9:12). The message: there is hope for your future! YHWH has great plans for you!

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares YHWH, ‘plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares YHWH.

In your pain, seek out God with all your heart. You will find Him and He will rescue you!

Are you a prisoner? Be a prisoner of hope!

In 539 BCE Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, defeated the Babylonians and the exiled Jews were given leave to return home as vassals of the Persian King. Zechariah was a prophet during this time. Once prisoners in a foreign land, Zechariah speaks God’s words of hope to the Jewish people:

Zechariah 9:9, 11-12, 16-17a

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
            Behold, your king is coming to you;
            He is just and endowed with salvation,
            Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
            Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey…

As for you also, by the blood of My covenant with you, I have sent forth your prisoners out of the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Today, also, do I declare that I will render double to you…

And YHWH their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; For they are as the stones of a crown sparkling in His land. For how great is His goodness and how great is His beauty!

God renders double to the God-followers who have suffered, just like Job received double at the end of his trials. But it’s not just what you receive, it’s what you become! God sees His followers as sparkling jewels in His crown. We are His flock living in His land.

We may feel like prisoners on this earth but through YHWH’s Covenant there is freedom. YHWH’s lovingkindness provides us with a humble King mounted on a donkey… the messiah, Yeshua (Salvation). If you feel like a prisoner, do not give up; be a prisoner of hope!

Let us be hope-filled in 2018!

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Next week: Valour

Post Script: Tikvah is hope of an expectant kind, but there is another word for hope in Hebrew, יָחַל (yachal). (See Lamentations 3:21-23). Yachal is a waiting hope. We will explore this one another time.

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