CHAPTER X

Hope

Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.'

ARE you ever cast down and depressed in spirit? Listen to Paul: ' 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' (Rom. xv. 13) . What cheer is in those words! They ring like the shout of a triumph.

God Himself is 'the God of hope'. There is no gloom, no depression, no wasting sickness of deferred hope in Him. He is a brimming fountain and ocean of hope eternally, and He is our God. He is our hope.

Out of His infinite fullness He is to fill us; not half fill us, but fill us with joy, ' all joy', hallelujah! ' and peace '.

And this is not by some condition or means that is so high and difficult that we cannot perform our part, but it is simply 'in believing '-something which the little child or the aged philosopher, the poor man and the rich man, the ignorant and the learned can do. And the result will be abounding ' hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost'.

And what power is that? If it is physical power, then the power of a million Niagaras and flowing oceans and rushing worlds is as nothing compared to it. If it is mental power, then the power of Plato and Bacon and Milton and Shakespeare and Newton is as the light of a fire-fly to the sun when compared to it. If it is spiritual power, then there is nothing with which it can be compared. But suppose it is all three in one, infinite and eternal! This is the power, throbbing with love and mercy, to which we are to bring our little hearts by living faith; and God will fill us with joy and peace and hope by the incoming of the Holy Spirit.

God's people are a hopeful people. They hope in God, with whom there is no change, no weakness, no decay. In the darkest night and the fiercest storm they still hope in Him, though it may be feebly. But He would have His people ' abound in hope ' so that they should always be buoyant, triumphant.

But how can this be in a world such as this? We are surrounded by awful, mysterious and merciless forces that at any moment may overwhelm us. The fire may burn us, the water may drown us, the hurricane may sweep us away, friends may desert us, foes may master us. There is the depression that comes from failing health, from poverty, from overwork and sleepless nights and constant care, from thwarted plans, disappointed ambitions, slighted love and base ingratitude. Old age comes on with its grey hairs, failing strength, dimness of sight, dullness of hearing, tottering step, shortness of breath and general weakness and decay. The friends of youth die, and a new, strange, pushing generation that knows not the old man, comes elbowing him aside and taking his place. Under some blessed outpouring of the Spirit the work of God revives, vile sinners are saved, Zion puts on her beautiful garments, reforms of all kind advance, the desert blossoms as the rose, the waste place becomes a fruitful field, and the millennium seems just at hand. Then the spiritual tide recedes, the forces of evil are emboldened, they mass themselves and again sweep over the heritage of the Lord, leaving it waste and desolate; and the battle must be fought over again.

How can one be always hopeful, always abounding in hope, in such a world? Well, hallelujah! it is possible 'through the power of the Holy Ghost', but only through His power; and this power will not fail so long as we fix our eyes on eternal things and believe.

The Holy Spirit, dwelling within, turns our eyes from that which is temporal to that which is eternal; from the trial itself to God's purpose in the trial; from the present pain to the precious promise.

I am now writing in a little city made rich by vast potteries. If the dull, heavy clay on the potter's wheel and in the fiery oven could think and speak, it would doubtless cry out against the fierce agony; but if it could foresee the purpose of the potter and the thing of use and beauty he meant to make it, it would nestle low under his hand and rejoice in hope.

We are clay in the hand of the divine Potter, but we can think and speak, and in some measure understand His high purpose in us. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make us understand. And if we will not be dull and senseless and unbelieving, He will illuminate us and fill us with peaceful, joyous hope.

I. He would reveal to us that our heavenly Potter has Himself been on the wheel and in the fiery furnace, learning obedience and being fashioned into ' the Captain of our salvation' by the things which He suffered. When we are tempted and tried, and tempest tossed, He raises our hope by showing us Jesus suffering and sympathizing with us, tempted in all points as we are, and so able and wise and willing to help us in our struggle and conflict (Heb. ii. 9-18). He assures us that Jesus, into whose hands is committed all power in Heaven and earth, is our elder Brother, ' touched with the feeling of our infirmities' (Heb. iv. 15), and He encourages us to rest in Him and not be afraid; and so we abound in hope through His power, as we believe.

2. He reveals to us the eternal purpose of God in our trials and difficulties. Listen to Paul: 'All things work together for good to them that love God.' ' We know,' says Paul (Rom.viii: 28). But how can this be? Ah! there is where faith must be exercised. It is 'in believing' that we 'abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost' (Rom. xv. 13).

God's wisdom and ability to make all things work together for our good are not to be measured by our understanding, but to be firmly held by our faith. My child is in serious difficulty and does not know how to help himself; but I say, ' Leave it to me. He may not understand how I am to help him, but he trusts me and rejoices in hope. We are God's dear children, and He knows how to help us and make all things work together for our good, if we will only commit ourselves to Him in faith.

Thou art as much His care as if beside
Nor man nor angel lived in Heaven or earth;
Thus sunbeams pour alike their glorious tide
To light up worlds, or wake an insect's mirth.

Again, when afflictions overtake us, the Holy Spirit encourages our hope and makes it to abound by many promises. ' Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal' (2 Cor. iv. 17, 18). But such a promise as that only mocks us if we do not believe. ' In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old' (Isa. 1xiii. 9). And He is just the same today. To some He says: ' I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction' (Isa. xlviii. 10) and, nestling down into His will and ' believing', they abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost '.

He turns our eyes back upon job in his loss and pain; upon Joseph sold into Egyptian slavery; Daniel in the lions' den; the three Hebrews in the burning fiery furnace, and Paul in prison and shipwreck and manifold perils; and, showing us their steadfastness and their final triumph, He prompts us to hope in God.

When weakness of body overtakes us, He encourages us with such assurances as these: ' My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever' (Ps. lxxiii. 26); and the words of Paul, 'Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day' (2 Cor. iv. 16).

When old age comes creeping on apace, we can rely on His promise to meet the need, that our hope fail not. The Psalmist prays: ' Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. . . . Now also when I am old and greyheaded, 0 God, forsake me not; until I have shewed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to every one that is to come' (Ps. lxxi. 9, 18). And in Isaiah the Lord replies: ' Even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you' (Isa. xlvi. 4). And the Psalmist cries out: ' The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright' (Ps. xcii. 12-15)

These are sample promises of which the Bible is full, and which have been adapted by infinite wisdom and love to meet us at every point of doubt and fear and need, that, in believing them, we may have a steadfast and glad hope in God. He is pledged to help us. He says: ' Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness' (Isa. xli. 10).

When all God's waves and billows swept the Psalmist, and his soul was bowed within him, he cried out: 'Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance' (Ps. xlii. 5). And Jeremiah, remembering the wormwood and the gall, and the deep mire of the dungeon into which they had plunged him, and from which he had scarcely been delivered, said: ' It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord' (Lam. iii. 26).

When the Holy Spirit is come, He brings to remembrance these precious promises and makes them living words; and, if we believe, the whole heaven of our soul shall be lighted up with abounding hope. Hallelujah! It is only through ignorance of God's promises, or through weak and wavering faith, that hope is dimmed. Oh, that we may heed the still small voice of the heavenly Comforter, and steadfastly, joyously believe!

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' Blood and righteousness ...
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

'HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? '

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