A faith that works: a faith that keeps me hopeful
Into a dark world, Jesus came, bringing hope to the hopeless. It is pretty much a given that we will experience difficult and painful times, but to get through them, we must have hope. We long for it—hoping the future will be better. But we often place our hope in the wrong things. Where do you turn? Whom do you trust?
Bottom Line: Hope is based on knowledge.
Something To Talk About:
We can handle enormous frustration, delays, and pain — as long as we have hope. But when hope is gone, we give up. In this message, we continue our study through the Book of James by providing seven reasons you can always have hope based on the promises found in God’s Word:
- Because we know the difficult times won’t last: The difference between faithful and unfaithful people is that unfaithful people give up at the first sign of difficulty. Faithful people keep on keeping on. It is crucial to remember that no matter what you are going through, your circumstances, or your problems, know that it is all temporary and won’t last forever. When we understand that problems in our lives are temporary and will not last, we realize that in light of eternity, they are really short, and then they become manageable. That is why James reminds us in James 5:10, “Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, they went through everything, they never once quit, all the time honoring God.” (MSG) James is telling us that the prophets knew that the difficult times they were going through were not permanent. They were temporary. They were passing through a season, and their challenges would not last.
- Because we bow that God will use difficulties for our good: Life is not a series of random, freak accidents. Life is not unplanned. Nothing can come into the life of a child of God without God’s permission. Everything is Father‑filtered. God is an expert at bringing good out of bad. He could have kept Paul out of prison in Philippi, but instead, he let Paul go to jail, and the jailer became a believer. The things you most wish were removed from your life are often the things God uses to shape you and make you into the believer He wants you to be. He wants to use that problem for good in your life. The apostle Paul says, “Never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
- Because we know getting irritated does not help: Let me ask you, has getting upset, distraught, distressed, or angry about anything that you cannot change ever been helpful to you? It is hard to be hopeful and angry at the same time. Hope can give you the strength to handle it and handle it better. James 5:9 (ESV) says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” James points out that not only does irritation not help, but it depletes the hope that we need to keep going. Our faith helps us to have hope. We know that God will use every situation for our good. It is critical to recognize that getting irritated about it doesn’t work, doesn’t help, doesn’t solve an unsolvable problem, and doesn’t control the uncontrollable.
- Because we know trusting God pleases Him: God loves it when you trust Him and rely on Him. Do you have the faith to say, “I don’t understand why I am going through this, but I believe you are a good God and will take care of me?” James gives us the example of Abraham trusting God without knowing all the details in advance of how it will work out. God often asked Abraham to put up with uncomfortable circumstances. Abraham didn’t know when, where, why, or how God worked in his life, but he believed God was a good God who loved and trusted him. (James 2:23) Can you trust God without having your questions answered as well?
- Because we know Jesus is coming back someday: You are still in the middle of the novel, and the middle of the story is often messy, confusing, and perplexing. Remembering that your past does not determine your future would be best. Put your hope in God. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future. James reminds us that everything fell apart in Job’s life, but God came through at the end of the story. (James 5:11) God cared about every detail of Job’s life and your life. Our faith in God and our faith in His Word keeps us hopeful even though we don’t understand all that is happening in our lives.
- Because we know this not the end of the story: When the future is uncertain, the world comes to a halt, and there is a lot of fear, it might seem like your story is coming to an end. The Bible tells us, “We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again . . . because we know that God raised the Lord Jesus back to life. And just as God raised Jesus, he will also raise us to life. Then he will bring us into his presence together” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 14 CEV). You win in the end, no matter what happens. We don’t know how much time we have left here on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we live without hope. You have to look forward to this: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4 NIV). This is not the end of the story. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.
- Because we know we will be rewarded: James 1:12 it says, “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love Him” (TEV). In this verse, he is talking about eternal rewards in heaven that you will enjoy forever and ever and ever. Our minds can’t even imagine what God has in store for us right now. It’s really beyond our human comprehension. The Bible says there is nothing on earth to compare heaven to. Every description of heaven is wholly inadequate because it’s so much greater, better, and more beautiful than we can begin to understand. Romans 8:18, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later!”
- Would you say you are a hopeful person? How have your experiences shaped your outlook?
- What are you putting your hope in? How can you embrace each trial you are facing right now?
- Is it easy to hope and trust God when life is going well? What about when you are going through something painful?
- What is the source of biblical hope? Discuss the aspects of God’s character that build your hope in Him. How do the following passages give you confidence? Romans 15:13, Psalm 42:5, Proverbs 8:32–36, Romans 8:19, 23-25, Romans 4:18.
- Hope is essential, eternal, and found only in Jesus Christ. Agree or disagree and why?
- Hopelessness may arise because of many reasons, but one reason is just not knowing the truth. Agree or disagree and why?
- How do you need to change your focus from fear to hope?
- What tools do you have to remind you of hope when you feel discouraged or fearful?
- Why do we want the world to see that Christians have hope and confidence amid a crisis?
- The phrase, “What would Jesus do?” may seem overused in Christian culture, but how is it helpful for making choices that will be rewarded in heaven?
- Why do you think God wants to reward you for your obedience?
- In what ways are you working for rewards on Earth? In what ways are you working for rewards in heaven?
Take One Thing Home with You:
“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” – 1 Peter 5:10.
We all have good intentions. But few people have a real road map to turn intentions into actions simply because life has the habit of getting in the way of good intentions. Hope is an essential quality of life, but it often ends up being nothing more than a wish. It takes action to turn hope into purpose, into real change.