Week of December 5


“Walking Toward the Light of Hope”

Read the Bible Through: Romans 5-8
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12, ESV


“There is nothing more practical for sufferers than to have hope. The erosion or loss of hope is what makes suffering unbearable” (Timothy Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, 313). Thankfully, Psalm 90 blesses us with guidance that leads sufferers to cling to God in hope! While we do not know the specific circumstances that led to the writing of the psalm, we may discover what led those suffering worshipers to find hope.
Seeking God’s Wisdom
You may determine upon a first reading of the psalm that God is out to get humankind, but this is definitely not the case. The psalm is a hymn that mourns the human condition but makes it clear that God is merciful. Our merciful God inspires hope in our otherwise flawed and frail existence. How may this be so?
Steps to Finding Our Hope in God
The psalmist outlines the steps that enable us to live each day with hope. First, there must be what I will term an “Aha moment.” We come to the realization that God is God, and we are not (90:1-2). The word “God” means eternal, which is the exact opposite of our frail lives. The psalmist reminds us that before the “mountains were brought forth. . .you are God” (90:2).

Secondly, for hope to accompany us on our daily sojourns, we must accept that we are limited and sinful (90:3-11). Confessing our sin opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the pouring out of His steadfast love, mercy, and forgiveness upon us (90:14, 17).

Thirdly, hope gushes forth from the life of a person who seeks God’s wisdom for life (90:12ff). Look at the “stepping stones” to the source of wisdom, the Lord Himself: “teach us,” “return,” “satisfy us,” “make us glad,” “let your work be shown,” and “let the favor of the Lord be upon us.” Nothing could be worse than needlessly wasting one’s life and losing one’s soul when God provides us with hope! Do you see the psalmist’s point?

Application: Finding Hope in God

I watched the heart-rending account of a young boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer. He underwent treatment, which caused the loss of his hair and further weakened his already frail body. It grieves my heart to watch anyone suffer, especially innocent children. This child had one wish and that was to meet his favorite professional football (NFL) player. His parents pledged to pay his way to watch the athlete play a game when he overcame the illness. The care of doctors and treatments enabled to boy to enter remission, so he traveled to the game and met his hero. It was future hope that inspired that child.

There is another level of hope that we have been considering today—eternal hope. Timothy Keller writes, “Human beings are hope-shaped creatures. The way you live now is completely controlled by what you believe about your future” (Keller, Walking with God, 314). Life, however, has a way of denting, damaging, and destroying our hope.

Enter God this Christmas season! Paul Tripp writes, “The way God has designed us is that vertical hope (our hope in him) would fuel a horizontal life [daily] of expectant faith and courageous action. Because we know that God is good, that he is faithful, and that he blesses us with his presence, promises, and grace, we have hope that what he tells us to do will produce good return in our lives” (Paul David Tripp, Suffering, 132). Our lives, that were formerly filled with dark hopelessness, become hope-filled when we walk into the light of Jesus Christ (read Matthew 28:1-6, “toward the dawn of the first day of the week.” “His appearance was like lightning,” and He is not here, for he has risen”)!

Take Time to Reflect and Discuss

1. Do you lack hope today? Face the fact of your finitude and confess your need of God in your whole life. Confess your sin and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. Walk daily along the “stepping stones” to hope that Psalm 90 provides.

2. For Families: There is a wonderful children’s praise song about putting hope in the Lord, when the whole world seems crazy and confusing. Your children probably know it! “There is hope, there is hope in the Lord. He is with me each day, I will trust Him today.” Every day is a good day to sing of our hope in God! Put the music on and remind your children that they can be light and hope to their world!

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock
*I have chosen to write a series of daily Christmas devotionals entitled “Pathway to the Manger.” There will be twenty-five reflections on Bible passages that broadly follow an Advent theme. Advent is a Latin word which means “arrival” and “coming.” It marks the season of preparation that arrives each year before Christmas and points to the second coming of Christ. These devotionals offer individuals and families a way to keep the daily focus on Jesus in the middle of a highly commercialized season where much attention is given to material things.