Hope from the Past

Antique Watch

Isaiah 51:2 “Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.”

Abraham had a hopeless situation on his hands.  He was already seventy-five years old when the Lord called him. He and Sarah were beyond the age for having children.  And their childlessness continued until they were in their nineties.  Yet, at an age when Abraham and Sarah could easily have been great-grandparents, along came baby Isaac. God gave Abraham and Sarah a child, and through him an entire nation of descendants.

Isaiah, writing over a thousand years later, reminded the people of his day, “Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many” (Isaiah 51:2). No matter how bad the outlook seemed, God’s people were never beyond God’s power to change things, to help them, and to give them hope.

The Lord doesn’t want us to look back to the hopeless events of our past and despair.  He wants us to see promise and opportunity ahead of us. That confidence will not come from the world around us.  Wars stretch on and on. Scandals plague our government no matter who’s in charge. Powerful hurricanes and raging wild fires remind us that we are at their mercy no matter how much technology we have developed. We can’t expect our world to solve our problems when it cannot solve its own.

That confidence will not come from ourselves. There is one thing every one of my problems has in common:  me, and my sinful behavior, my sinful reactions, and my sinful perspective. When we realize this, then we know that confidence in ourselves is a false hope.

We have true hope because God promises us his care. We see his power to help Abraham, and his willingness to help Abraham, and we know our help comes from the Lord, too.  We can look back at a hundred other Bible characters the Lord helped. Doesn’t the very gospel of Christ’s suffering that saves us show us God’s power to turn the most hopeless-looking situation into great blessing and victory? The death of God on a cross is forgiveness and life for the world!

Our personal histories are sprinkled with evidence God still cares. At times things looked bad, but in the end the Lord saw us through.  The only gifts God gives us are good ones. The only needs the Lord supplies are all of them. God invites us to look to the past, and see that he promises to take care of us now and in the future.

We often hear people talk about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We can bear the pain if only the end of it all is in view.  But for you and me, the light is always on at the end of the tunnel. The end is always in view, because we know it all ends in heaven with joy and gladness and thanksgiving and the sound of singing. It is the ultimate gift of God’s care.

That gives us hope as we face the many threats of this present moment.

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