How Do We Practically Hope In God?
The death toll and rising number of coronavirus every day are frightening. The thought of loved ones being sick and dying alone in a hospital is frightening. Losing a job is frightening. Grocery shopping and needing to disinfect the packaging and myself when I come home is frightening. Sending loved ones to work or going to work yourself, where we can be exposed is frightening. Everyone staying in the home and not going anywhere can be frightening. Shepherding hearts through these uncharted waters is frightening. Homeschooling can be frightening. Aging parents getting sick with this virus is frightening.
One of my favorite things about the Bible is that it doesn’t call me to live in some crazy fantasy world where I pretend that these realities, and many more, are not frightening. God doesn’t expect me to deny my fear. Instead, because he is God, he invites me to hope in something bigger than my fear.
Hidden in 1 Peter 3:1-6 is a nugget of truth that has helped me fight fear. Sarah fought fear not by not facing fear, not by not having fear, not by denying things were frightening. She fought fear with hope in God:
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Pet. 3:5-6)
In this unique season, fighting fear with hope can be so real, almost at times palpable. So how do we practically hope in God? During this season, I am doing so by:
1. Strategically Memorizing Scripture That Reminds My Heart How Big God Is
To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.
Deliberately memorizing verses like these is a calming balm to my soul. God calls the stars, the planets, the sun and moon, the galaxies yet discovered by man, all by name. That displays his power and control. O my soul, put your hope in God. He is bigger than a virus or its wake. Do not compare God, believe in him.
2. Singing Worship Songs as a Weapon
I read an article by John Piper recently that has packed a new punch in my weapon of worship. In it he defines the word Hallelujah:
The English word “hallelujah” is a transliteration of two Hebrew words, “hallelu” and “jah”. The first word, “hallelu”, is the second person imperative of “praise.” The second word, “jah,” is the short form of “Jahweh” (or “Yahweh”).
To shout, “Hallelu Jah!” — “Praise Jah” — is like standing in the council of the gods and boldly saying, “Not to you, Molech!” “Not to you, Baal!” “Not to you, Dagon!” “Not to you, Artemis!” “Not to you, Zeus!” But to Jah, and Jah alone, I give praise. And I call you to join me! Praise Jah!
Recently, we’ve been singing the song, “I Raise a Hallelujah” often in church. After I read this article, I found myself in moments of facing fear, stepping back and choosing to raise a Hallelujah. Not you, fear, nope. You will not rule me today. I choose to worship “in the middle of the storm” and sing until hope arises because my King really is alive.
3. Enjoying God’s Glory on Display in His Creation
Watching a sunrise can cultivate a hope in God too. Just think to Psalm 19:1:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Every sunrise, every sunset declares, “Glory!!! Glory!! This beauty reflects me.” Just as the sun is faithful to rise each morning, so will I be faithful to give new mercies each morning. Savor and enjoy my glory on display.
4. Cultivating Thankfulness & Praying It
Each November as a way to practice gratitude, our family fills up a huge framed chalkboard in our kitchen full of “thankfuls” – little things we are each thankful for that day. Sometimes they’re spiritual and deep: Jesus, God’s Word, conviction, grace for the day. Others are more light-hearted: Legos, ice cream, family time. Little by little our chalkboard is filled each night as we share something or someone we are thankful for. By the end of the month, the board is filled and our hearts are reminded how faithful God is every day.
We’ve begun that thankful board again. Every night in this unique season, we each write a new thankful on the board. It’s a reflection of the command we see in Philippians 4:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7)
In moments of fear, or when a terrifying news bulletin comes across my path, I stand in front of the board. With thanksgiving being the leading voice in my prayer, I pray, “O, God, these tiny chalk thankfuls display your faithfulness, specifically to us in this season, and you are always faithful, thank you. Thank you that you hear our prayers and cries for help. Thank you that you know each one in the hospital. Thank you that you are always near, even if we can’t be.”
5. Casting My Anxieties on Him Because He Cares for Me
First Peter 5:7 calls us to cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
At the top of the journal page, I wrote 1 Peter 5:7, and then, like a fisherman casts out his line, I let my pen fly. Over and over again, new fearful thoughts, new ways to be anxious that had been looming, I scribble and cast. By faith, I write the frightening things down and let them go onto him. He invites me to do this because he cares for me. And as I cast, I am set free.
God doesn’t expect me to deny my fear. Instead, because he is God, he invites me to hope in something bigger than my fear, himself.