One of the habits I have not developed well enough is that of going through my cabinets and cupboards to not only organize, but also get rid of those out-of-date items that somehow got shoved to the back of the shelf. How could I possibly forget that nothing I purchase and bring home is without an expiration date?
A few weeks ago I dug into our medicine cabinet to check on expiration dates, but I really didn’t expect to find anything that was a problem because there was not as much there as when our children were young and living at home. I was more than a little shocked to discover a bottle of extra-strength acetaminophen that was several years expired. The bottle had gotten shifted to the back of the shelf and well…you know the rest.
There are other things beyond products we buy that can get shifted to the back of the shelf as well. Some of them are antidotes to things we are struggling with. In the flurry of daily activities we can forget what was already provided for us.
Fear is one of the most prevalent viruses spreading throughout the world today and it gets plenty of reinforcement from daily news no matter what its source. Monster storms, earthquakes, uncontained wild fires, unspeakable atrocities, violence, spreading civil disorder, disabling diagnoses, and even threats from space of asteroids coming close to earth. We are bombarded on every side.
We need more than optimism. Too often optimism is based on fairytales that do not stand up to real life challenges. Optimism many times comes with a heavy dose of denial. I recently read a quote by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks from Celebrating Life:
“It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope.”
We so easily allow hope to be eroded and Proverbs 13:12a makes clear what that will create:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”
God repeatedly points to three key antidotes to the challenges of daily life: faith, love, and hope. I don’t think He intends they simply be words we toss about without meaning or understanding. Three of His reminders that are favorites of mine in my arsenal against the daily onslaught include:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” Hebrews 6:17-19 (ESV)
Have we paused long enough to get the powerful truth the writer of Hebrews is telling us about? Hope is an anchor of the soul!!
I love what John Eldredge says in his newest book, All Things New, as he describes the difference between faith, hope, and love:
“A life without faith has no meaning; a life without love isn’t worth living; a life without hope is a dark cavern from which you cannot escape.”
John’s words describe so well what can too often be our experience:
“When we lose hope we wander too close to the shadowlands of hell…Hope is the sunlight of the soul; without it, our inner world walks about in shadows. But like a sunrise in the heart, hope sheds light over our view of everything else, casting all things in a new light…
Faith is something that looks backward—we remember the ways God has come through for his people, and for us, and our belief is strengthened that he will come through again. Love is exercised in the present moment; we love in the “now”. Hope is unique; hope looks forward, anticipating the good that is coming. Hope reaches into the future to take hold of something we do not yet have, may not yet even see. Strong hope seizes the future that is not yet; it is the confident expectation of goodness coming to us.”
It can be easy in the midst of crisis and chaos to think or say, “That’s all well and good, but I don’t see it!”
Perhaps that’s the point. Where are we looking?
If we are looking at the world for human options, it can look shaky and bleak at best. We long for someone to stop the madness and rescue us as we slip down a descending slippery slope. There is only One who can and He has promised to be there in the midst of all this (whatever it is) with us and to come for us who put faith in Him.
It is in His Word we find the source of truth, the source of faith, the source of love, and the source of hope. And hope is the antidote for what is often ailing us. It is the anchor we need.