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Hope, No Matter What

Last year I read through the Bible in a year.  I like doing that every three or four years or so.  But I find it hard to have enough time to look more in depth at certain passages when I have to keep up with a Bible-reading schedule.  So in other years I like to study a book, a passage, or even a word in more depth.

Anybody who follows my blog or receives our prayer letters will know that we had a devastating flood on two of our mission campuses in August of 2012.  

This resulted in our ministries on those campuses finding temporary locations as well as the need to find housing for around 54 people.  The year that followed was a year of organizing teams to come out to help with clean-up, hiring local workers to help with clean-up, and building a retaining wall inside our security wall.  It meant another move  from our temporary locations back to campus.

It was a time of discouragement, of desperation, and of despair.  It was also a time of hope, of clinging to our Father's promises, of rebuilding, and of restoration.  The building that was the hardest hit on the Sahel Academy Campus was the dining hall/kitchen/assembly hall building.  As it was cleaned up, restored, remodeled, and moved back into, it was also given a new name:  Hope Hall.

During our Spiritual Life Conference in January, the visiting team had the youth make a puzzle collage focusing on the word "HOPE".

 This got me thinking more about the word as it is used in the Bible.  We tend to think of it as "not likely to happen but I will wish for it to happen...against all odds".  In fact, the Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines hope as "a desire for the future to be as good as you want it to be".

So, I've been looking up verses on HOPE and then looking up the Hebrew or Greek word.  I've found to be a great resource. I'm no Hebrew scholar, but one of the passages I've been looking at is intriguing to me for it's three Hebrew words, all translated HOPE.

Lamentations 3:18-26 uses the word numerous times:
v. 18  So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.
v. 21-25  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.  Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I will say to myself, "The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."

In verse 18 the word is tocheleth and it means "expectation".

In verse 21 (Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope) and verse 24 (I will wait for him) the word is yachal and it simply means "to wait".

In verse 25  (those whose hope is in him) the Hebrew word is qavah and it also means "to wait" but with the added idea of "twisting, stretching, the tension of enduring.

So, my understanding of these verses is that the writer (Jeremiah, who is lamenting the state his people have fallen into and the punishment God is allowing for their sins) is this:
Jeremiah expected certain things from God but through affliction he no longer had them.  Then he finds he can wait for God when he focuses on His love, His mercy, His compassion, and His faithfulness.  Seeking God and waiting for Him brings a certain amount of twisting of the soul, of tightening, of tension.  It results in a firmer faith in God, a dependence on Him no matter what, a clinging to God despite everything falling apart around him.

Hoping in God is not something that's always easy to do.  Sometimes we question God, especially during hard times.  There is a tension to it, a twisting of our hearts and souls.  It is something that can only happen when we focus on God.