Life At Its Best: We cannot survive without hope
It's been said that "man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air but only one second without hope."
I don't know about going 40 days without food; if you're like me, it can be hard to go 40 minutes, especially over the holidays, when the smells of homemade tamales and Christmas cookies fill the air.
But I do agree that the absence of hope has an enormous effect. Without it, it's difficult to go on, even for a short amount of time.
In Hosea, we read about a time when the Israelites had lost hope. For many years, they lived in God's blessing as His chosen people. But over time, they forgot His promises and abandoned His ways. They began worshipping false gods, and their disobedience caused them to fall under Egyptian rule.
That wasn't an easy time for God's people. Everything they knew was changing. They were losing their country, families and even their freedom. Worst of all, they were losing hope that they would ever get back to God's blessing.
In Chapter 2, we read Hosea's prophecy to them. He first challenges them to turn away from their sinful lifestyle. Then, he begins to rebuild hope in their heart for the future. In verse 15, he says, "God's going to give you back your vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope."
"Achor" means "the place of serious disappointment." Hosea knew the Israelites were in pain over their past, but He wanted them to know God hadn't given up on them and that if they'd return to Him, He'd restore hope in their hearts about who they could become.
The same is true for us. We've all spent some time in our own Valley of Achor. We've experienced seasons of deep disappointment that discourage our hope in God's promise. But God's message to us is the same as it was to the Israelites. He wants to take our times of deepest disappointment and turn them into a door of hope.
Of course, we have a part to play in this restoration process. Regaining hope begins with believing in His promises. Hebrews 10:23 says, "Hold unswervingly to this hope you profess for He who promised is faithful." God never breaks His promises. If He said it, we can be sure He'll do it. It might not seem like it at the time, but don't give up. His promises will come to pass.
Then, we must mature in His principles. Before God moved the Israelites out of Egypt, they had to turn away from some wrong habits. In the same way, if we want to experience God's best, we, too, must be devoted to His ways. He's not asking for perfection; He's asking for passion and progress.
So focus on doing right today, then take it one day at a time. If you do, God will lead you out of disappointment and into your incredible destiny.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.