Not long ago, a friend of mine said, "I do not need more instruction on how to do my job well. What I need is a reason to keep doing it. I need someone to say, 'Keep going! It will be worth it in the end.'"
Have you ever felt like that? It is not that you do not know what to do. It is just that you need help wanting to do it. In other words, you need a sense of hope.
Neil Clark Warren, the psychologist who started the online dating service eHarmony, said that when he did therapy with married couples, his primary goal was simply to see a 10 per cent improvement in their relationship.
Now, that does not sound like much, but he found that little bit of improvement gave the couple hope that things could get better, and that hope kept them going when they otherwise would have quit. In fact, he stated that "Hope is the single most indispensable, non-negotiable, irreplaceable resource required for big challenges and noble battles."
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are arrested and thrown in jail for healing people and preaching the word of God. Jails in that time were terrible places and prisoners were not always treated kindly.
In fact, in this case, they were beaten and whipped before being locked up. Then we read, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them" (verse 25).
What? Why are they singing? Aren't things terrible for them? Haven't they just been beaten and thrown in prison for doing something good? They were singing because they had hope.
Now, is that just them being silly and naïve? Not at all. That is faith.
Faith is always able to say, "Though things look bad right now, I am certain that God is going to work things out." Hebrews 11:1 puts it this way: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see." Faith and hope always rest on what God can do even when I cannot see it now.
In the end, hope is one of your most important spiritual possessions, because it will keep you going when you really want to quit, and it will cause you to rely on the God who can do anything.
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord" – Psalm 31:24