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Sermons about Dispair
The problem with Israel is our own, it is the gap between what we believe in theory and what we believe in practice. I may agree that God is sovereign (theoretical belief), but slip into deep anxiety when I am afraid or out of control (functional disbelief). What it means to grow in grace is to see the gap narrowed between what I confess to be truth and what I functionally believe in the moment. If it’s true that behind every sin is a lie, we are able to find a road out of the rut of despair and the feeling that our emotions and actions are inevitable. Nehemiah is helping us to see the path of hope in hopelessness, joy in the midst of suffering, and courage to fight our shame and disbelief.
How you live now is an outworking of hope. Your hope is shown in your life. Itâ€™s that simple. The biblical concept of hope is difficult to grasp because the word translated from the Greek isnâ€™t served all that well by our modern or popular usage of the word hope. The Greek word is used some 88 times in the New Testament and is always translated as â€œhope.â€ The problem is that the English word gives the impression of wishing rather than a kind of certainty without site. In other words, when asked whether or not this or that thing is going to happen, you may say â€œI hope it does,â€ meaning that you are wishing it does. It has uncertainty mixed in. But the Biblical definition of hope is a life-shaping certainty about something that hasnâ€™t happened yet, but you know it will.
Most Christians, if weâ€™re honest, might have to confess that the prevailing story that our lives and reality are defined by is not the story of the Kingdom. But this story is comprehensive in scope and it calls for our whole life, our own individual stories, to find their fulfillment and meaning only in its story. Our identity, our purpose, our sense of value, our meaning, our security, our idea of comfort and pleasure are all to be absorbed into this great story that is the true story of the world and our lives.