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'Surviving' on false hope?
- Jacob Ninan
After God gave Abraham the promise for a son he had to wait many years before he finally received a son. Abraham was holding on to hope even though all practical basis for hope was fading away as he and his wife went beyond the age of childbearing (Ro.4:18). God was delighted with this kind of faith, and declared Abraham as 'righteous' (v.22). This was a matter of trusting in God and holding on to His promise even though everything natural appeared to be against that. But one key point here we must not forget is that it was because God had spoken specifically to Abraham that he hoped in this way. Faith comes by hearing the 'rhema' word of God (Ro.10:17), which is a Greek word generally used for a spoken word. Our faith also must be based on what we 'hear' from God personally. On the other hand if Abraham wanted a son badly and because he knew that nothing was impossible with God he kept hoping he would get a son would there have been any guarantee that he would actually get a son?
Have you seen preachers who keep the expectations of the audience high with loud promises of the coming revival or a visitation of the Holy Spirit with extraordinary healings and miracles? Nothing seems to happen, but 'hope' is being kept up with stories of what happened elsewhere and the phrenetic movements and words of the preacher. People keep waiting for things to happen and finally many go away disappointed. Countless number of people who turned up for healing, especially people from other religions, turn away sadly and some of them even turn away from God. True hope does not disappoint (Ro.5:5), and so obviously these people were being fed with a false hope.
This is not to say that one should not hope for revival or healing. Obviously we hope for such things because we know God can do such things and also because He is a good God who wants to give us good things. But isn't there a difference between hoping (or desiring) that God will do something for us and hoping like Abraham because God has spoken to us specifically? In the second case we need to 'hope against hope' like Abraham did till we receive the promise. But many times things fall under the first category where we are just wishing that God would do something for us, without having received a 'spoken' promise from God, i.e., receiving a conviction in our heart. In such situations, if we wait a reasonable amount of time for something we are hoping for and it doesn't happen don't we need to check if we are 'hoping' without any promise from God? In such cases if we get disappointed we can see that it was not because God didn't fulfil His promise but we were just wishing for something from God.
Many people keep hoping that their marriage will improve, their children will change, etc., without doing anything practical to deal with those situations and then get upset with God when it doesn't happen. We mustn't rest on 'baseless' false hopes but ask God to show us what we should do.