Hope is my favorite word. I cannot get away from that word regardless of what comes my way. That is a blessing, to be sure, but it sometimes causes me to wonder. Allow me to explain…

Preachers are an interesting lot because our lives tend to color our messages. When I was in seminary there was a professor who was pastoring a church in the area who had previously been a missionary overseas. The overarching theme in many of his sermons was missions and evangelism. I knew another pastor who in virtually every sermon he preached would say, “Are you in the center of God’s will for your life?” That phrase was a common refrain in his ministry.

As a pastor I largely have committed myself to preach through books of the Bible. I have preached through Isaiah, John, Galatians, Ephesians, etc. I have also spent many a day in the Psalms. Still the one common thread that I seem to find in the majority of my sermons is hope—specifically the persevering hope to be found in Jesus Christ. I cannot get away from this theme.

I have not done a poll among my congregation, but over the eleven years that I have been pastor of Donelson View, I would be willing to bet that the theme of hope would be in the forefront of most peoples’ minds.

A favorite hymn of mine is “The Solid Rock,” and the opening stanza states:

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

That zeroes in on my life and ministry. My hope in life and in death is Jesus’ blood and righteousness. There are choices I have made in my life for which I am greatly ashamed, and when I am reminded of some of those choices I feel a tremendous amount of grief and shame. Driving to work this morning I remembered some of my past choices and instantly felt a deep sense of regret.

Instinctively, I cried out to God and suddenly had the thought: “Bo, that is not who you are anymore. You don’t live that way anymore.” Instantly, I felt a great sense of hope because it is true. That is NOT who I am any longer. God, has delivered me from many grave circumstances.

Hebrews 6:19-20 states (in part): “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”

Hope is an anchor for the soul. It holds us in one place and can keep us from drifting into despair. That hope has come because of the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross for our sins and through His resurrection from the dead to give us HOPE even in the dark night of the soul.

To my shame, there have been seasons of my life when I was caught in various sins. In those seasons I felt great shame, but at the same time I cried out to God for mercy and deliverance. I prayed and prayed and prayed over these long seasons of spiritual drought, not feeling any relief. I did not hide my sin from God. I was honest with Him about it, and slowly, over time, God would give me brief glimpses through His word like Psalm 37:

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,

And He delights in his way.

24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;

For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Suddenly, HOPE would fill my soul, ever so slightly. I would cling to the word of God with all of my might—even when my experience would speak a different word about hope for my future.

And God was FAITHFUL. He DID bring the deliverance I was hungering and thirsting for over the course of many years.

I think this is the reason why my ministry is so infused with this word—hope. I am nothing special. I am merely a sinful man who has been desperate for God. Through my desperation I have beheld the hope-giving faithfulness of the One who is neither surprised by our sin nor hand-cuffed from helping us get out of it.

What about you? Do you have this hope?

He offers it to anyone willing to believe even in the midst of unbelief.