BY JORDAN MAYER
“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.”
For over a year now, I have been planning to transition into a different role at work. I was presented with a rather amazing opportunity to both fill a need at the company and do something I really enjoy. Talk about a win-win! Yet over these many months, I’ve seen this opportunity seemingly stymied again and again. Although I would consider myself to be a generally optimistic person, I've struggled against the looming cloud of discouragement and disappointment.
Is there something that you’ve been waiting, wanting, and hoping for? Maybe it’s been a lifelong dream or a deep-seated desire. Perhaps it's something that you've prayed long and hard about for weeks, months or even years. It can be difficult when things don’t work out the way we expect. But as I’ve seen again and again, God's Word supplies the answer.
First, I realize that my ways are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). I see only in part, but God sees the whole. I know very little, but God knows all. Given my extensive limitations, I only have a small notion of what I think would be best for me. But I am not God. I cannot see past, present, and future laid out like an unraveled scroll. I cannot weigh in the balances all the countless decisions, actions, and paths to be taken. For four chapters, God answers a man named Job out of the whirlwind, declaring the marvelous and magnificent nature of His sovereignty. Job can only answer thus: “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know”(Job 42:3).
As a follower of this all-seeing, all-knowing God, I believe that, not only are His ways not my ways, His ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9)! His ways are better than my ways! He has plans for my life, plans for good to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). If God would so love me that He would send His only son to die on my behalf, how can I not believe that He will also graciously give me all things (Romans 8:32)? This is the Sovereign God who watches over the sparrows and numbers the hairs on my head (Matthew 10:29-31). He is the great Provider who supplies my every need (Philippians 4:19).
Life can take many twists and turns, and it usually does not play out the way we expect. Though we don’t know the outcomes, we do know God. He is good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love toward all who call upon Him (Psalm 86:5).
As Romans 15:13 reminds us, it is in believing in this God of hope that we experience joy and peace. It is not just a joy or a peace, it is all joy and all peace! For in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and the peace that He provides surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6).
By God’s grace, I have gotten to experience a renewed sense of His peace in my life. It defies natural explanation or description. I know a contentment that seems out of place in my circumstances. But that is because it comes, not from myself or my situation, but from my Heavenly Father. His peace is always there, ready and available. But it can only be found in His presence, in believing and trusting Him with all our being.
I think of the words from the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!"
Prayer is an exercise and measure of our faith. If we don’t believe, we won’t pray. But oh what peace we forfeit when we do not pray, when we do not believe.
So we pray believing that God hears, that He answers, and that He acts. We believe in who He is, what He's done, and what He promises. And it is in believing that we come to experience the joy and peace that God offers in himself. And it is in Him that we hope.