Updated: Sep 19, 2020
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.” Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)
In John 11, we find the familiar story of a family Jesus knew well and loved deeply. The chapter begins with a very ill Lazarus in the care of his two worried sisters. They send for Jesus, no doubt hoping He will come right away and heal His friend, as He had healed many others before. Instead, Jesus sends an assurance, a seed of hope that Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death, and He stays where He is for two more days.
In that time, the unthinkable happens. Lazarus dies. His sisters are devastated. Grief, pain, and confusion must have weighed heavily on their hearts. Yet when Jesus comes to them, Martha reveals the glimmer of hope in her heart.
She says, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11: 21-22).
As her brother lay dead in a tomb, Martha clung to hope that God was still good and nothing was too hard for Him. Her experience with Jesus gave her hope that was resilient, even in the face of a tragedy with as much finality as death.
Sometimes in our Christian journeys, we come to a point where hope is almost a defiant act. The Psalmist was familiar with this stubborn, defiant hope in God, as revealed when he penned the words,
“I wait for Jehovah, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Yea, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in Jehovah; for with Jehovah there is lovingkindness, and with Him is plenteous redemption.” Psalm 130: 5-7 (ASV).
This hope encompasses watching with longing and trust, waiting for the morning through the dark watches of the night.
The Jews, like the Greeks and Romans, divided the night into military watches instead of hours, each watch representing the period for which sentinels or watchmen remained on duty. Watchmen would stand atop the city walls in times of stress to survey the scene outside the fortifications. If a threat appeared, they would sound a warning and the town would shut its gates and prepare for battle. The relief that would wash over them with the sunrise must have been immense at the end of a watchful night.
Just as surely as they knew the sun would rise, we can be confident that God will come through for us.
Martha’s battered and bruised hope rose at the sight of the Savior. He fed her hope with the assurance that Lazarus would rise again. Martha clung to that promise and saw its fulfillment afar off, “at the last day.” Jesus’ plans for her family were beyond her wildest imagination. That very day her tears of grief would give way to tears of jubilation as she embraced the brother she had watched die only days before.
What Jesus has for us is beyond our most cherished dreams. When disappointment, doubt, or fear try to rip hope from our grasp, we can hold tightly to it by God’s grace. We can trust Him with every goal, every relationship, and every hurt knowing that the story He is writing for us has the best possible ending.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)