“Pray for me, Heather,” my friend wrote in her Whatsapp message to me this week. “I am so discouraged.”
Recently, my friend had been offered an opportunity. She had been praying for this possible enterprise for a few years. This was a prayer request that if answered would go a long way to assist her. She believed that the Lord was finally providing something she had been asking for….her hope rose.
Until her hopes were dashed.
As she proceeded to secure her place in the venture, she was abruptly informed that there was no place for her. All openings were filled. She was told to reapply the following year.
It was at this point that my friend wrote me. She had done all that was asked and had received some level of assurance that this opportunity was finally hers for the taking – until it wasn’t.
Instead of going forward, she felt like she was right back where she had started – sidelined – in a perpetual, waiting place.
Could my friend remain hopeful for the opportunity she sought – even as she continues to wait for yet another year?
I can relate.
I believe most of us are in a perpetual waiting place for one reason or another. This is why I resonate with the word ‘hope’ as explained in the Psalms. Most of the time, when I uncover the Hebrew meaning of hope in the Psalms, it means ‘wait.’
The Psalms continue to express a waiting hope. This is especially true in Psalm 119.
In each case, the word for hope is the transliterated word, yachal. Yachal means to wait, to tarry, to be patient, to be pained, to expect, to hope for, and to delay.
Yep, that about covers it!
For waiting often requires patience.
Waiting invokes pain.
Waiting invites us to tarry – to just hang put for a time.
Waiting involves delay.
And throughout our waiting, we are encouraged to remain hopeful.
But there is something more to plumb as we wait. Waiting for the perfect job or waiting for prince charming to arrive at our doorstep or waiting for any number of things to happen, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be at times. Just ask my friend.
The heart of the issue for my friend, for me, and for the rest of us is what or who are we waiting for and ultimately placing our hope?
For the writer of Psalm 119, he shares four different occasions that give us a definitive clue of where his hope depends…
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word. v. 74
My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word. v. 81
You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word. v. 114
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word. v. 147
Which verse most represents your present life situation?
There are times when we need the fellowship and companionship of a Faithful, Grace-Giving Friend.
There are times when we are weak and faint and need the power and strength of a Savior.
There are times when we suffer in silence and need the comforting solace of a trusted Refuge.
There are times when we are in the midst of a fight or struggle and need a Protector.
There are times when we are lost, alone, sick, frightened or anxious, it is then that we need a Helper and Encourager.
According to the Psalmist, he finds the grace, acceptance, promise, strength, love, glory, protection, comfort, and salvation we need in the Word.
When the psalmist declares that he has put his hope in the Word, he is proclaiming that His hope is found in Christ.
Christ is the Word.
This powerful truth is also affirmed in the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
New International Version, John 1:1-5
What hope, power, strength, light, blessing, and triumph are found in these first few words of John’s Gospel!
Think of it this way: my sweet friend was on the brink of losing hope. She was descending into a dark, discouraging and bitter place as she foresaw her future without a particular opportunity. It was at this point that she cried out, “Help me! Pray for me!”
She turned to the One who could overcome the darkness of her soul. She turned to Christ. He is her Word. He is her Hope. He is her Strength.
My friend knows that her Savior and Lord is waiting with her – strengthening her, emboldening her, helping her. As Christ is doing for us all as we wait for Him and His glorious return one day… for ultimately that is what our waiting is all about now. We seek Him and await Him. Truly, this is what is meant by a waiting hope. We look forward to the day when our Savior shall return and establish His Kingdom for Eternity!
Friends, every other hope we have – is a temporary, short-lived hope.
And temporary, short-lived hopes are really just wishes. And wishes can often get many of us into trouble. For when we put an expectation upon our God to award us with a prayed and prayed and prayed for opportunity or to grant us the love of a prayed and prayed and prayed for individual – and He doesn’t – we may wonder if our God is really for us. Why haven’t our wishes come true?
We may feel that what matters to us does not matter to our God.
There’s a pervasive danger in that kind of thinking. For the absence of hope in God may embitter our soul – leading to a dark, distrusting heart.
I don’t want to descend to such a place – do you?
I prefer to hold fast to a waiting hope that leads me to trusting my God with no matter what. That may be scary – because we are entrusting our future, our dreams and our desires into our God’s care. We release control and expectation that He will answer as we dictate. Instead, we await His answer. Even if His answer is “no” or “not yet.”
That kind of waiting isn’t easy – the Psalmist admits that with his word choice for hope. Remember, Yachal is a pained, patient, tarrying, delayed and waiting kind of hope.
But yachal is worth it.
How do I know?
Because as believers, we are waiting for Christ. And when He comes – every hope will be realized!
I don’t know where you are today, Friend. You may be in a place where you feel side-lined just like my friend in South Africa. You may be waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen and it feels like it never will. Or you may wonder if what you believed to be hopes for your life are really just wishes. Wherever you find yourself today, the fact that you’ve read this blog post to this very point, may be that you are experiencing some kind of waiting hope.
Hold on, Friend.
Your waiting hope leads you to the Word.
The Word is Christ.
And He offers you exactly what you need – His love, His grace, His strength, His justice, His peace, His salvation – Himself.
Will you put your hope in Him and trust Him for ________________________?
It is my prayer that you will just as my friend is doing….that’s the enduring power of a waiting hope in Christ.