My grandmother Phillips was a great cook. A big part of her life was “prepping the feed-bag” for her children and their families and for anyone who might be passing through her North Carolina mountain kitchen.
A wondrous memory of childhood was when my petite grandma would hoist the gigantic steel pressure cooker (with help, as I recall) onto her harvest green stovetop for a special step in the feast preparation. I don’t even remember what she was usually boiling in that wooden-handled beast, but my fascination lay in the physics of it all. It amazed me that this was the only pot in the house whose lid required numerous “Frankenstein clamps” to secure it onto the main vessel. There was even a pressure gauge that could warn country chefs of either undercooked taters or impending doom. And atop the lid was an all-important valve which was capped with a weighted helmet. This valve allowed the pressure of the cooking process to “let off steam” just enough to result in the best banquet for grandma’s guests. I clearly recall walking across her old kitchen during such a process and hearing the pot valve release steamy stress with the vibration of each step, “Pssssh, pssssh, pssssh!”
Life is a pressure cooker. Each of us has important recipes that we’re cooking up with God’s help. Even if we keep the Word first in our lives, we deal with stress, hassles, challenges and weighty demands. Sometimes, we feel as if “she’s about to blow!”
I recently thought about how God has certain truths within His Word that can help usrelease pressure. In the pressure cooker of our lives, these truths are the stress-valves that allow us to joyfully press on. There will still be active pressures present in a kettle doing its job, but certain principles can keep us cooking without blowing our lid. They are ideas that enable longsuffering. They energize patience. They are issues of longevity. They help us in care-casting. They assist us to carry on in our growth efforts without giving up the fight. They are encouragements from God that remind us that there actually is a way out of any day’s tragedy. They give us the potential to stand with God for a lifetime. Hope is one of these great truths.
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation[thlipsis-mental pressure]; continuing instant in prayer;
Hope may be the greatest of the truths that keeps us going forward. It is God’s light at the end of the world’s tunnel. With God’s promises, our lives are never hopeless, nor helpless. The Father always has more hope and more help for us. Hope reminds us that, even though the devil is the god of this world’s kingdoms, God is still in charge. His kingdom is over all. He has never budged from the throne of eternity. He will see to it that every jot and tittle of His Word comes to pass. Hope reminds us that our Father excels at making a way where there is no way. I heard the briefest of worship manifestations the other day, “I’m your Father; what do you have to worry about?” We are never hope-less.
Psalm 31:24 (NAS)
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.
We talk a lot about love and about faith. We’ll never get too much of those foundational realities. They leap out of every page of Scripture and are woven into everything that a believer thinks, says and does. Love and faith are too big to miss. But without hope, we believers can sometimes burn out or give up in our loving and believing efforts.
Love activates. Faith appropriates. Hope anticipates. In all of our activating and appropriating, the Great Anticipator (hope) gives us the gumption to love and believe one more day. Hope is our great encourager.
Hope is the anticipation of future benefit. It is our present trust in the certainty of a promise of God to come to pass in the future.
There is much to hope for in Scripture, but the Great Hope for the believer is the anticipation of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s the anchor of our souls. Jesus Christ is coming back. No, really, he is. It’ll happen as surely as the Word of God is true. It’ll happen as surely as we are able to pray in the spirit. It will be a most astounding occurrence in man’s history. Initially, it may appear to be just another day on the calendar. But for us, it’ll be glory day! The first century believers spoke so often of both the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as well as the certainty of his second coming. They anticipated it during their lifetimes, and so do we. Today, we are simply 2000 years closer to his return.
Consider the sequence of Acts 1:8-12a. In verse eight, among Jesus’ last words were that when the holy spirit would come on them, the apostles would, 1) receive power into manifestation and 2) be his witnesses. Next, as Jesus ascended up, two angels (as men) stood next to them and asked why the apostles were still staring into the sky. The angels then declared,
Acts 1:11 (NIV)
…This same Jesus…will come back…
From these verses, a simple life-summary statement might be: get born again, walk by the spirit, witness, anticipate the trumpet sound. How can our lives get so burdened? How can my life get to the point where it’s a pressure cooker that’s about to blow? We need to allow all of the Word’s hopefulness, and especially the hope of seeing our lord face to face, melt away the temptation to be discouraged. With hope, we’re too blessed to be depressed!
Philippians 3:20 (NAS)
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
We “wait for the hope” through operating the spirit and by faith. Our waiting is active, not passive!
Of the few titles that God chose to give Himself in Scripture, one is “the God of Hope.”
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
God promises us an incorruptible inheritance, eternal rewards, life in an eternal age with Him, with our lord, and with God’s people of all ages. Just think. No adversary. No devil spirits. No evil. No sickness. No death. Living life in the complete presence of God and His son. What a motivating hope we have! It frees us to give our utmost for His highest and to fearlessly share the gospel. What hope has God set before you? How does the anticipation of future blessings help keep you loving and believing today? Since we anticipate Christ’s return during our lifetimes, how does that affect your decision-making? How does it help us manage life’s inevitable mental pressures?
1 Peter 1:13 (ESV)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
While we are “cooking up” great recipes in the kettle of our lives, let’s live in the benefits of hope, able to manage life’s pressures, anticipating great times of feasting ahead.
Abounding in Hope, Kevin Guigou