Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 25, 2021 

Shabbat Shalom,

Hope 28 – “Oh Well” by David Harwood

Let’s address an attitude. Many of us are living with disappointment. Our Hope has been deferred for so long  that our hearts have gotten very tired. Essentially, we’ve surrendered to a status quo to which we should not capitulate. 

People tend to incrementally make peace with despair. One discouragement after another is viewed as definitive. Finally disappointment becomes our default emotional state. It reminds me of this dialogue from The Princess Bride.

Inigo Montoya: Who are you?

Man in Black: No one of consequence.

Inigo Montoya:  I must know…

Man in Black: Get used to disappointment.

Inigo Montoya: ‘kay.

Circumstances say to the heart which is hardly holding on to Hope, “Get used to disappointment.” The exhausted heart surrenders and replies, “Okay. Oh well… what I Hoped for hasn’t happened. I guess it never will. That’s life. Let’s carry on.”

Pilate washed his hands, self-absolving himself from any responsibility. At times we wash our hands of the responsibility to keep Hope alive. I looked up the definition of “keep-hope-alive” and found that it means exactly what we’d think. 

Even if something seems to become more and more unlikely, do not stop believing in it.

Don’t misunderstand me. Everybody gets tempted to live with disappointment. Of necessity, that included Yeshua. (Hebrews 4:15-16) However, rather than making peace, we’re called to battle for the fulfillment of every promise we’ve received.

At times we may feel like the wind is taken out of our sails. We become dispirited. Our Hope does not feel empowered. The mere mention of the Hoped-for promise brings emotional pain. To avoid the pain we make void the promise. However, Paul gave some relevant general instructions to the Roman believers. Here’s a verse, taken out of its context, that effectively describes a way through the doldrums. Look:

rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer (Romans 12:12 NAU)

This describes a process that is helpful and attainable. First, consider “rejoicing in Hope.” 

Hope is related to worshipful waiting. When we start to sincerely Hope it is easy to rejoice. We are filled with anticipation, eagerly expecting Adonai to act. Our Hope is based upon our faith. The believer believes, therefore they begin to wait for it to come to pass. They spontaneously praise Him at the start of the process. 

Hope motivates confident rejoicing. It is a deep security, a confidence, knowing the answer is on the way, and looking for it to come. A friend who experienced remarkable success in a highly unlikely venture wrote me. She said, “I’m so excited about what is coming next!” That, that(!) is biblical expectancy. That is rejoicing in Hope. 

Look at the next phrase: “persevering in tribulation.”

We are exhorted to persevere in tribulation. Why? Perseverance is part of our calling. The fruit of the Spirit includes patience and faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22) Also, to secure our Hopes it is necessary to persevere when faith’s answer has not yet come. Why persevere? Because we know that our Deliverer is coming and is bringing what we’ve received by faith. So, even while we’re waiting we rejoice in hope and persevere in the middle of difficulties that delay Hope’s fulfillment.

How might we persevere in expectation? A way we persevere in Hoping is through agreeing with God, confession, saying the same thing. If we believe in our heart that we have it then we really believe that we’ve got it. When that’s the case, the expression of our hearts through the words of our mouths is a natural result. The writer to Hebrews wrote:

Let us hold fast the unwavering confession of hope, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23 TLV)

Paul referred us to Abraham’s example. It is worth reviewing.

Yet he did not waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God. Rather, he was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what God has promised, He also is able to do. (Romans 4:20-21 TLV)

Finally, we’re called to pray. Why? We devote ourselves to prayer because we know that our prayers hasten the fulfillment of our Hope. The fervent prayers of righteous people are effective. Here’s an example of Paul’s perspective. Note that action, Hope, and prayer are connected.

At the same time also, prepare a guest room for me—for I hope that through your prayers I will be given back to you. (Philemon 22 TLV) 

Here is some confirmation about our need to persevere in Hope: 

For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:24-25 TLV)

We are to keep our expectation alive. We Hope for what we do not see while we persevere and await Adonai‘s answer. We know that Romans 8 speaks of the ultimate outworking of redemption. However, it applies to us in our present-tense, time-bound situations, too. 

We are instructed to be rejoicing in expectation, faithful during any difficulty in our waiting time and praying for the faith to become sight: the fulfillment of our Hope. In the light of our previous meditation I think that it is important for me to emphasize that Romans 12:12 was written to fellowships of believers. We are not called to praise, persevere, and pray by ourselves. We are called to participate in fellowships of Hope.

It is the lot of humanity to go through seasons wherein we are tempted to utterly despair. Here is Paul’s testimony of the Fellowship-of-Despair. He is writing as the leader of an apostolic company. Note the pronouns, “we,” and, “us.”

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living. (2 Corinthians 1:8 TLV)

This experience of heart-sickness was experienced in community. The difficulties they faced were insurmountable. Paul was realistic about this. He recognized that life is hard, temptations can be strong, but that God is faithful. 

No temptation has taken hold of you except what is common to mankind. But God is faithful—He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. But with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 TLV)

Let’s quickly revisit Paul’s testimony of this team’s despair and continue reading about their battle. Here’s the Emissaries’ remedy for, and renunciation of, hopelessness. 

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living. 9In fact, we had within ourselves the death sentence—so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. 10He who rescued us from so great a danger of death will continue to rescue us—we have set our hope on Him that He will rescue us again. 11You also are helping by your prayer for us, so that from many people thanks may be given on our behalf for the gracious gift given us through the help of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8–11 TLV)

Note, he testified that the apostolic team had set their hope on God who raises the dead. That is powerful. Every believer has the certain expectation of participation in the resurrection. Paul and his co-workers applied that Hope to their immediate circumstances. We need to do that, too. We need to do that every day.

Have you gotten used to living with disappointment. In what area of your life? Simply writing this mediation is exposing areas in my life which I need to confront. Also, I’d be lying if I did not emphasize the struggle it takes to overcome.

I encourage you to isolate those discouragements. God is worthy of our Hope. Our souls flourish when we Hope. We can rejoice in Hope, persevere in the difficulty and give ourselves to prayer. Let’s do that.

If your Hope is totally broken down, then begin to rebuild. Perhaps some initial enthusiasm has waned. Maybe the pain of delayed expectations is so great that your heart has gotten sick. I’ve had to rebuild in the past. Here’s what I suggest you do: begin with Small Expectations, but give no quarter to No Expectations. 

Abba really is identified as the God of Hope. Let’s replace, “Oh well” with “He will!” 

rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer (Romans 12:12 NAU)

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 25-Dec-2021 21st of Tevet, 5782 Parashat Shemot

Ex 5:1-6:1Isa 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23Ac 7:17-37