Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5).
Hope misplaced is hope lost. Hope cannot stand alone. It does not float on the air. Hope must be placed in something. That something must be the right thing.
Otherwise, hope is lost. A soul that has lost hope is a sad and troubled soul. It looks for answers it cannot find, for joy that always fades. It finds fears that it cannot face.
To lose hope is to have a miserable existence.
We might think of medical patients to whom doctors say, “There is nothing more we can do.” We might remember the American prisoners on the Bataan Death March when the Philippines fell to the Japanese. Hope is more than an emotion. It rests alongside faith and love. It is at the center of our soul. It has been placed there by our God. Better to lose an arm or an eye than to lose hope.
The hope the psalmist speaks of is different from a child hoping for a toy or a person hoping it doesn’t rain on a picnic. Disappointment comes when such incidental hopes are lost. Disaster follows the loss of essential hope. The meaning of our lives, the reason to keep living, and the joy of life is bundled with the hope planted into our souls by our Creator.
We want things to turn out well. We work toward that end. We pray for it. No matter how difficult or long the path, we want to find joy and success at the end. We hope for the good. We are born with hope in our hearts. Disappointments can whittle away at it. Tragedies can kick it in the face. Failures can cause us to lose sight of it.
Despair crushes it. How can we protect it? How can we keep hope alive and well? We need put it into a safe place. Hope in our skills will fail. Hope in our friends will fade. Hope placed in our money or job won’t keep it safe. Only one place is safe. The psalmist names it.
Put your hope in God!
That’s the essential message the Lord God gives to the human race. When we are told to, “Fear, love, and trust in God above all things…” we are pointed to the place for our hope. The triune God never changes, never fails, and always cares. Better than gold in a bank vault is hope resting in the everlasting arms of the Almighty. Can he take care of our needs? Ask the birds of the air who feeds them. Can he protect us from danger? Ask the wind and the waves who commands them? Can he rescue us from death? Ask Moses and Elijah who appeared on earth thousands of years after their earthly life ended.
Can he deliver us from evil?
He did. Look at Golgotha. Look at Easter’s empty tomb. Then declare with the Apostle Paul, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). The next time our soul begins to worry, relay the order from on high: “Place your hope in God!”
And all will be well.
We lift our hearts to pray: Since all power is in your hands, O Lord, and since you watch over your servants with loving eyes, lead us along the path of life. Lead us to victory and glory everlasting. In you alone, we place our hope. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military