Each week for this season our devotions will be centered around the practice of PRAYER. Like the disciples we too have the opportunity to ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We encourage you to read all prayers and Psalms out loud – let the words of Scripture fill your prayers!
Devotional Thought // Pastor Donia
What is hope? A feeling of expectation or desire for a specific outcome? Or maybe hope equals TRUST. Or maybe hope is a verb, an active positioning of our hearts.
Whatever it is, hope is INVISIBLE. Hope isn’t really something we choose. It lurks in the corners of our psyches and in the recesses of our hearts, endangering our certainty. If hope cannot be seen, if hope springs forth from some unknown place, then the physical world in which we live is not the only thing that exists.
I tend to hope in the physical. We’ll call it “Ikea hope.” Recently, I decided to redo our office. It was decently organized and we had a workspace, but no matter what, it was always verging on falling apart. Ikea to the rescue! Their sleekly-designed, Swedish-engineered products would surely make my life easier! I browsed, I pinned, I moved items into my cart. But as I checked out, I was informed that the items I wanted were OUT OF STOCK. Did I mention that I had already packed our office up and school was about to start!?
So I waited. Weeks. (Now months). Then I received a text notification: Ikea had re-stocked my items! Hope for organized office beautification re-ignited! I filled my online cart and went to check out and YET AGAIN, was told they would be unable to fill my order.
Sometimes hope deflates. Ikea hope, anyway.
The PHYSICAL world wants to be our hope. The PHYSICAL world wants to be our Plan A, our Plan B AND our Plan C.
The physical world tells us everyday, in a million different ways, that human-produced and human-fulfilled hope is the BEST kind of hope and the only hope there is. But more often than not, it fails us.
God’s kind of hope is much deeper, more mysterious than we can ever FULLY know. The invisible, immaterial hope we all experience, that a depressed person LONGS for, is REAL hope. It is from God and wants to invade our lives so that we can be catapulted into the divine reality of an unseen kingdom that functions much differently than the physical world.
We’ll call it “imprisoned hope.” Paul writes as a man physically in chains, but spiritually unchained and working to unchain others from his jail cell.
Philippians 1:12-14, 20 (NLT)
And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.
When we say “yes” to Jesus, we don’t settle for Ikea hope. Like Paul, we:
- Mourn our present distress.
- Build our hope by recalling God’s work in the past.
- Hope in a future secured by God.
May it be so, in your life and in mine. (Even if my office is STILL in boxes.)
1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers,
and preserve me from the violent,
2 Who imagine evil in their hearts
and stir up strife all the day long.
3 They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent;
adders’ poison is under their lips.
4 Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the ungodly;
preserve me from the violent, who have purposed to overthrow my steps.
5 The proud have laid a snare for me and spread out a net with cords;
they have set traps in my way.
6 I said unto the Lord, “You are my God;
hear the voice of my prayers, O Lord.”
7 O Lord God, the strength of my salvation,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
8 Let not the ungodly have their desire, O Lord;
let not their evil imagination prosper, lest they be too proud.
9 Let not those who encompass me lift up their heads;
let the evil of their own lips consume them.
10 Let hot burning coals fall upon them;
let them be cast into the fire and into the pit, that they may never rise up again.
11 A slanderer shall not prosper upon the earth;
evil shall hunt the wicked person to overthrow him.
12 I am sure that the Lord will avenge the poor
and maintain the cause of the helpless.
13 Surely, the righteous shall give thanks unto your Name,
and the just shall continue in your sight.
Father, grant me fresh courage to be honest about my sadness, my grief and pain. Jesus, thank you for weeping with us as we weep. Holy Spirit, produce hope within us as we learn to trust you and not the work of our hands or the false promises of the world. Help us to become a people that sincerely trust you to secure the future.