Last week we walked through a very difficult situation with one of the young, single moms in our church. For several weeks the biological father of her child had been getting increasingly violent with her, and her family - and then last week, it all came to a head. The father shot out the tires on this young mom’s car, with her sisters sitting in the car, and then took the one year old child, and refused to return her. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult situation, and we struggled with a lot of fear and worry for our friend, her daughter, and her family.
The situation was frustrating in all sorts of ways, especially trying to help our friend navigate the local legal and judicial systems - both of which are complex, and not user friendly. There was a group of folks from the church praying for the situation, and several folks trying to help - but to be honest, there were more than a few days that ended with me feeling hopeless about the situation being resolved peacefully.
In the midst of all of this, one of the leaders at our church offered to connect this young mom with an attorney who specializes in domestic abuse and child custody cases. When I heard that the attorney was available, AND that someone had offered to cover her initial fees, I was flooded with relief. For the first time in several weeks, I felt hopeful about the situation. That night, as I was praying and thanking God for His provision of the attorney, I could almost audibly hear His response - “You’re welcome - but next time, put your hope in Me, not an attorney.”
Ouch. What God put on my heart in that moment was painfully true: I had been praying for the situation, and putting my hope in God at a really broad level, but when it came to who I was actually trusting to bring about a resolution, my hope was fully in this attorney. That was made clear by the fact that the first time I felt hopeful was when I found out the attorney had been hired. And hoping in the things or people of this world is not wise, because the things and people of this world can all too easily disappoint us.
But the reality is, putting our trust in the wrong place is something we can all struggle with, because we are “hope obsessed”. From hoping that a certain meal will taste good, to hoping we pass a test, to hoping we get a certain job, to hoping we will have the determination to live how God has called us to live - our lives are fueled by hope. The result is that we regularly put our hope in things or people that end up disappointing us. And that’s because we’re asking these things and these people to give us joy, and peace in our hearts, and to give us purpose and direction, and to give our lives meaning. That’s a lot to put on the things and people of this world! And it’s also foolish, because all too often, the things and the people of this world disappoint us.
So, where should our hope be? King David gives us a clear answer in Psalm 39:7, which says: “Where do I put my hope? My only hope is in the Lord.” God is the only place where we can put our hope, and not be disappointed. And that’s because He’s unchanging, and unmoving. But it’s also because He’s all-powerful. So if we want to be sure we put our hope in something that won’t disappoint us, and that has the ability to truly help us - than we need to put our hope fully and completely in God.
So today, let’s do this. Let’s ask God to show us the areas in our lives where we’re putting our hope in something other than Him. Whether it’s our jobs, our education, our abilities, or the people around us - let’s ask God to help us see the things we’re hoping in more than Him. And then, let’s surrender those things to Him - and ask Him to help us hope in Him, and Him alone.