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Then God

Years ago I walked into a Christian bookstore eager to find a Bible study. I headed straight for the section dedicated to everything Beth Moore. I can’t remember if I had completed one of her studies yet, or if I just had heard such wonderful things. As I stood there looking at them all, I found myself judging the study by its cover and going for the newest one with the most beautiful design. It was bright and bold and yet still inviting. It was placed next to another study with a much more subtle design of pale green hues and light browns—perhaps the new study stood out precisely because it was next to the rather subdued one. I held both books in my hand and read the back of each. The text on the prettier one made it seem like I would learn a lot. But it was the Bible study with the subdued cover that would win out.

As I read the description on the back of the book, I’ll never forget the sentiment that stood out to me as if the Holy Spirit was right in front of me audibly speaking. Beth had written,

“I had believed in God all my life, but did I believe God?”

I knew in that exact moment that this was my study—and truthfully, it changed my faith in the best way forever.

Early on in the study, Beth shares her worst nightmare and the journey God took her through to trust Him even in that. She asks the reader to fill in the sentence “If {insert worst nightmare}, then God.” The point being that no matter what circumstance we face, then God, because only He can suffice in those dark and scary times.

Recently I’ve been thinking about this a lot. As I have tried to navigate the current climate of our country I have felt hopeless and helpless. In one sense the election cannot get here soon enough and in another I never want it to come. The never-ending nature of this pandemic and the way it continues to divide people is unlike anything this country has been through in recent years. And the civil unrest that has followed the modern civil rights movement seems to have only fueled more division.

I’ve felt overwhelmed by it all. Frustrated. Deeply saddened. Burdened for my friends of color. Enraged by the lack of civil discourse.

I realized, my heart was slowly being taken over by everything other than what I know to be True.

Where is Your Hope?

In John chapter 5, we read a story you’ve probably read or heard a hundred times if you’ve been walking with God for some time. Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem and comes to a pool thought to heal the sick. There is a paralyzed man waiting outside the pool—he had been this way for 38 years. When Jesus sees him and asks if he wants to be healed, the man explains that every time the water is stirred someone else essentially beats him in to the pool because no one is there to help him in, and he misses his chance.  Jesus asks him if he really wants to be healed. And of course the man says yes! At once, Jesus heals him and tells him to go.

As I read this story again it came to life in a new way for this current season. Isn’t that the most amazing thing about the Word of God? It truly is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12)! This paralyzed man had his eyes fixed on a pool of water, hoping against all hope, believing against all hope, that one day he would make it in those waters, they would rush over his paralyzed body and he would indeed be healed. Can you imagine being within arm’s reach, for days on end, of the very thing that you think will change your life and never make it in? As I considered this, something came into my thoughts that was clearly not my own—the man was placing his hope in a pool of water when what he needed was the God of Hope.

What am I placing my hope in? The government? The medical community? Knowledge and understanding?

In those moments conviction ran down my spine, I was putting my hope in an election, in a cure, and losing hope that hearts will ever really change.

But my hope belongs IN the God of Hope and nothing else.

The Hope About All Hope

M.W. Elliott said, “Hope as an ultimate reality, giving shape and meaning to the present, is a distinguishing feature of Christians.”

Oh how I want to live like this! Which brings me back to where I started.

What if [insert the political candidate] gets elected, then GOD.

What if the pandemic goes on for a very, very long time, then GOD.

What if outright and hidden systemic racial injustices don’t get fixed anytime soon, then GOD.

My Hope, your Hope, the Hope we profess as believers comes from the eternal, never-changing, always in control God. Do I believe Him for it and not just believe in Him?

In this season of so much uncertainty, He remains true. As believers then, we can be assured He is in fact sovereignly reigning over all the circumstances and situations we see ahead. Even when it might look dark and dreary to us, Hope reigns.

I took my eyes off my God and placed my trust in the things around me. With renewed focus, I walk forward, do the work, get out and vote, speak Truth, all while fixing my eyes on the God of Hope. Because no matter how any of this turns out the God of Hope remains on the throne.

Take Inventory

What do you think? Have you found yourself in a similar situation as I have found mine?

Let’s do this together, friends. Let us walk through this season with the Hope that is in fact “a distinguishing feature” of us Christians.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Lindsey Zarob
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