We are hope-guzzling machines. We consume hope every day. If we run out of it, we become desperate. We must have hope. All the wonderful things that have happened to us in the past will not fuel our hope if our future looks bleak. We can be grateful for the past. But we must have hope for the future. It’s what keeps us going.
When we’re hopeful, the world is full of wonder and possibilities. We have drive and curiosity. We want as much life as we can get. We take on challenges and see adversity as something to be overcome.
But when we lose hope, the world becomes a fearful, threatening place, full of chaotic futility. Hopelessness saps us of energy and desire. It robs us of interest and appetite. We just want to curl up and protect our soul. We call it depression. The Bible calls it hopelessness.
So what do you do when you lose hope? Note the psalmist’s prescription for his depression:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God (Psalm 43:5).
Hope in God. Three simple words, but what exactly do they mean? This verse gives us a clue:
It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).
God created us with bodies and souls. Both require sustenance for life. What energy is to the body, hope is to the soul. When our body needs energy, we eat food. But when our soul needs hope, how do we “eat” God’s words? We eat God’s promises.
A promise is a pledge of a good or better future for us. God’s promises are what he pledges to be for us, do for us, andprovide for us. Here is a powerful example of a promise God has used to feed saints throughout the ages and give them hope:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises for “all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). He is the very Word of God (Revelation 19:13), which is why he called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35) for “whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (John 6:58). Jesus is the Source and Sustainer of our hope because without him we would not have a future.
What could possibly give more hope to our sinful souls than Jesus’ promises of complete forgiveness of our sins, the removal of all of the Father’s judgment and wrath against us, to always be with us (Matthew 28:20), and give us eternal life in God’s presence with full joy and pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11)? Nothing!
Now these are the “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4) that our souls are designed to be nourished by. However, our souls will actually digest any promise we feed them and try and convert it into hope. And here’s the danger: the world and the devil are very aware that we feed our souls promises.
Have you noticed that every advertisement and every temptation to sin is a promise of happiness? If we eat them, we hope they will bring us the happiness they promise. But they are “junk food promises.” They can never deliver the happiness our souls crave because we are designed to hope in God’s promises.
What are your promise-eating habits? I mean, junk food promises are everywhere. They are often convenient and usually alluring, especially when you’re hungry. They ruin your appetite for real promises. They deliver a fast buzz of false hope, but always disappoint because the buzz is followed by a hope-plunge into guilt, shame, and or emptiness.
The only way to break a habit of eating junk food promises is cultivating a taste for rich, nourishing, long-lasting, deeply satisfying, and true promises. And God freely gives us such promises to eat because he wants us to abound in hope:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).
Our deep desire at DG is to help you taste and see that the Lord and his promises are good. One way we can do that this month is to point you John Piper’s message, “How Can I Keep Hoping? The Scriptures!” We will find no greater place to feed our souls than with the banquet God has provided for us in the Bible. For, as John explains, all the Scriptures have this one goal: to sustain our hope.
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We are, or will become, what we eat—what we feed our souls. We must take greater care in what we feed our souls than we do our bodies. Much, much more is at stake. Let’s eat the bread of life so that we will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. For “he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Feeding with you on God’s precious and very great promises,