I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to get my head around the scientific principal of buoyancy, even with Tim’s simplistic explanation! But I do know that it’s the reason boats don’t easily sink, even when they are like floating hotels with huge waterslides.
For me hope is like buoyancy (not easily sinkable) as it gives us an amazing ability to be optimistic in the face of dire circumstances. I have encountered some of those dire circumstances in my own life as my husband Tim went through a cancer battle. Even though things in the natural looked scary and overwhelming God gave us this resilient hope that things would work out one way or another and that we could trust Him with the outcome. This hope we felt (which we were grateful to experience right from the moment we got the diagnosis) meant that we were able to set the tone for our family and friends in the way we approached and travelled through this season. We found that our kids and friends looked to us constantly to see how we were reacting to what was happening and the hope we felt for the future turned out to be contagious and helped them navigate through it too.
Now this hope was built on our faith in God and His promises to us. His very character means He is true to His word, He cannot lie. His promises throughout scripture are true for us and it is often in life’s dire circumstances that we find this out for ourselves as we build trust with the Father.
As I read the scripture Nehemiah 2:11-20, it was clear that Nehemiah was a man of great character, not because of anything he had done but because of who his God was, and he had an unswerving faith in God. He saw dire circumstances through God’s eyes, and this changed everything for him and those around him. When he saw Jerusalem’s walls were in ruins his response to this was ‘Come let us rebuild the walls’ and then explained to his men his reason for this resilient hope in the face of what was in the physical a disaster. He told them about God’s promises to him and of God’s grace on his life. His men were clearly impacted as their response to his request was ‘Let us start rebuilding’.
11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal[a] Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
Nehemiah’s resilient hope was a catalyst for the restoration of Jerusalem, and it moved and impacted those around him. So how can we learn from Nehemiah to be a people of hope in a world that is desperate for it?
1. What promises in scripture give you hope in the face of difficulty?
2. Take some time to reflect on what those promises reveal to you about the Father’s character?
3. How do those promises help you to bring hope to those around you in your everyday life?
4. Who can you pray for that needs to experience hope today?
What a privilege it is to be a hope carrier, and a wonderful opportunity to share with others why we have this hope.