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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

True hope is the confident expectation that God will move on your behalf in order to satisfy your heart's desires, rescue you from difficulty or guide you to fulfill your destiny.

Today we move from Faith to Hope, the second part of the trilogy of 1 Corinthians 13:13
Now faith, Hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest is love.
(In case you missed them, here are my first two posts in this series: "Faith in Your Spouse" and "Faith In Your Marriage.")

Faith and hope are inextricably linked. Faith gives legs to our hopes.

Here is how faith and hope are linked Hebrews:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV

What is Hope?

Sometimes we cheapen hope by equating it with wishful thinking. "I hope it doesn't rain today." Even a nice sentiment such as "I hope my marriage gets back on track" doesn't really ring with the kind of hope we have in God.

Hope, as we understand it from a biblical perspective, is altogether different than wishful thinking. True hope is the confident expectation that God will move on your behalf in order to satisfy your heart's desires, rescue you from difficulty or guide you to fulfill your destiny.

When we lose hope, it's usually because we don't really trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God. When circumstances press against us and our reality doesn't appear to line up with the truth of who God is, hope can be elusive.

When we lose hope, we begin to doubt.  Does God really have my back? Does God actually work all things for good? Is it true that He will never leave us of forsake us? When we lose hope it makes us heartsick (Prov 13:12).

Never is this heartsickness more true than when you lose hope in your marriage.

Restoring Hope in Your Marriage

As I alluded to in my recent post "Renew Your Dreams", there are no magic formulas for restoring lost hope in your marriage. Whatever has led you to such a dark and despondent place is more than likely a path filled with hurt, disappointment and strife, maybe over many years.

As justified as you might be to feel as you do, I implore you not to remain stuck in hopelessness. Don't resign yourself to live in the marriage you have today. And please, please don't head for the exit!

We have this promise from Romans:
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5
The strength you need to sustain your marriage in hard times is found in the love of God, poured into your heart by the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.  Paul Miller, in his book A Praying Life, describes his own battle with hopelessness, which he describes as cynicism, this way:

"Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd. Cynicism feels more like bondage to me now. Jesus sets me free to love by showing me the dark, self-serving agenda I cling to in my cynicism. I am well aware that the journey is far from over, but I am learning to live in hope. I just need more practice. The Shepherd’s presence in the dark valley is so immediate, so powerful, that cynicism simply vanishes. There is no room for an ironic disengagement when you are fighting for your life. As you cling to the Shepherd, the fog of cynicism lifts."

Cling to the Shepherd

If you feel your marriage on its deathbed, or in "in the valley of the shadow of death" as Psalm 23 describes it, fix your eyes on the Good Shepherd. He has a table set before you in this very season.

I love how beautifully The Passion Translation casts fresh, life-giving light on the very familiar 23rd Psalm.

1  The Lord is my Fierce Protector and my Pastor.
    I always have more than enough.
2  He offers a resting place for me In his luxurious love.
    His tracks take me to an oasis of peace,
    The quiet brook of bliss.
3  That’s where he restores and revives my life.
    He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure,
    And leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness,
    So that I can bring honor to his name.
4  Lord, even when your path takes me through
    The valley of deepest darkness
    Fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
    You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
    Your authority is my strength and my peace.
    The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
    I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
5  You become my delicious feast
    Even when my enemies dare to fight.
    You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
    You give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
6  So why would I fear the future?
    For I’m being pursued only by Your goodness and unfailing love.
    Then afterwards— when my life is through,
    I’ll return to your glorious presence
    To be forever with you.
(Psalm 23 TPT)

As we'll explore next time, restoring hope starts with changing your thinking. If you are in a season of struggle, I encourage you to read this Psalm every day. Wash your mind with the truth of it. Pause after each phrase and let your mind and spirit absorb the truth of it.


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