I believe that HOPE is essential to our very being… just as necessary as food and shelter. The scary thing is that when I look around our world, it seems like “hopeful” is not a word many use to describe how they feel about life.
The writer of Lamentations understood what it meant to be hopeless:
“I am the man who has seen affliction… I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me all day long. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (Lamentations 3, selected verses.)
Have you been there? Have you been in a place of complete hopelessness? Maybe you’re there now. It’s a horrible place, an awful place. A place in which there often seems no way out.
But suddenly, as we read on in Lamentations 3, the writer leads us straight to that path out of hopelessness:
“Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…” (Lamentations 3:21-25)
Ruth and Naomi, two women from the Old Testament, knew what it meant to WAIT for God in hope. Naomi had moved away from God’s people in Bethlehem to the city of Moab with her husband and two sons. While there her husband died, her sons got married, and then both of her sons died. Left in a foreign land with nothing, not even much hope, she decides to go back to Bethlehem. After begging both her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab, one of them, Ruth refuses and is determined to be faithful to her mother-in-law and faithful to God.
When they arrive back in Bethelehem we see just how bitter, hurt, and perhaps hopeless Naomi is after all her loses:
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Don’t call me Naomi (which means ‘pleasant’),” she told them. “Call me Mara (which means ‘bitter’) , because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)
Through an incredible series of events, though, God restores the hope of both Ruth and Naomi by providing a kinsman redeemer for them, someone who will take care of them and carry on their family line. Boaz has many characteristics that we would later see in Christ himself as he followed God and his plan for his life, even when it meant marrying Ruth, a Moabitess.
We see the fulfillment of Naomi’s restored hope when Ruth and Boaz have a son… a son who would go on to be found in the lineage of Christ himself! (Matthew 1). If this isn’t an amazing picture of God using the brokenness of our lives to bring about redemption, I don’t know what is!
God has an amazing plan for each of us as well… an amazing plan to redeem us… and an amazing plan to redeem the world through us! In the mean time, we wait in hope and trust the unfailing love of our amazing God and Savior!