““For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease.”
Job 14:7 NKJV
It was a season of gloom for me as a teenage boy who had failed his school certificate examinations twice. Poverty had not allowed me to go back into a proper school to relearn for a year and make another good attempt. In the midst of the difficulty, the future looked so bleak. Depressed and downcast, I volunteered to help an uncle at his newly opened business office. It was there I found a photocopy of part of a book by the above title and authored by Robert Schuller, an American clergy and motivational speaker. As he told the story of how a family’s farm estate was once wiped out by a tornado and yet eventually experienced a turn around, flickers of hope began to light in me as he also told one comeback story after another. The future might look bleak but no future is automatically a reflection of the present. Your darkness can turn to light, your night to day and your mourning into dancing.
Faith is defined as the substance of things hoped for(Hebrews 11:1). Much has been taught about Faith but we must never forget that it substantiates hope. Hope is futuristic and beyond immediate reach. Faith brings it into a present assurance that guarantees an eventual manifestation. However, without Hope, Faith is completely unnecessary and irrelevant. No matter how dismayed, disappointed and disillusioned we may be, we must never lose hope. For as long as we can keep hope alive, we can enjoy the possibilities that the future holds for each and every one of us. For me it was amazing how even though the following day and indeed the following year remained the same for me in the natural, my mental view and attitude had changed. Now I realize that whether a man is in a sense of joy or gloom is not a function of what he is going through but rather his perception of what the future holds.
It is my firm belief from my experience that the ability to discern the way out of difficult situations is determined by our attitude to them. Focus on impossibilities and difficulties can drown us in such sense of darkness that we cannot see opportunities all around us. This is more so when our sights are fixated on only one specific direction. Expectations are wrapped around individuals, family members, employers, friends, certain business interests, relocation plans and others so much that when they disappoint, we throw our arms up in total surrender and give up on our dreams. A picture of this is found in Genesis 21:15 when Hagar the mother of Ishmael laid her son down a distance from herself, expecting him to die of a thirst not knowing God had provided a well just around her. The bottle of water Abraham gave them was the only source of water she knew they had. But for God’s mercy that spoke from heaven on behalf of the boy, Hagar and the boy would have died needlessly. Similarly in 2 Kings 4, who would have thought the pot of oil in the house of a widow was the key to her miracle? Her late husband had made her two sons collaterals for a loan he did not repay till his demise. When Elisha asked what she had in the house, she answered ‘nothing except a jar of oil’. She answered in disdain for the jar of oil. She saw no possibilities in her small measure of oil but thank God she at least had hope in the prophet. In like manner many of us lack hope in what we have in our houses.
A stick in Moses hand, a pebble in David’s own, 5 loaves and 2 fish or 7 loaves and 2 fish all have one thing in common and that is smallness. As little as they were, they held potentials for awesome possibilities when made available for God’s use. The story was told by a guest speaker I hosted many years ago that a man applied for a job with a church baptismal certificate. He lacked academic credentials to present for a job vacancy but produced a baptismal certificate that was of great value to him as a dedicated church goer. While the interviewers chuckled at the humorous effort of the man, they figured his value for his certificate will make him a good and honest Christian suitable for another role. He got a job!! If only the portals of heaven can open up and you will see through the gaze of the almighty God, you will discover he sees abundant and amazing miracles in your mirage, advantages in your adversities, triumphs in your trials and testimonies in your tests. All you need to do is to keep hope alive.
Robert Schuller advanced possibility thinking in his book as he advised a mental exercise that worked for him of thinking up 10 possibilities. He called it ‘Count to ten and win’. By the time a man prayerfully brainstorms on ten possible ways he can solve a problem and starts to try them one after the other, most likely he will find his solution before he is done. God has a way out for you. If you will refuse to give up, you will find it. The truth is that every problem has a life span on it. If you will hold on, change will come. Job realizing his woes would not last forever decided to wait it out.
“If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, Till my change come.”
Job 14:14 KJV
There is a time period appointed for this trial, it will not last forever. If you will hold on, change will definitely come to you. You will outlive and outlast your difficult circumstances. Your seemingly endless labor will be rewarded, your heartfelt prayers answered and your desires granted. Truly, tough times never last but tough people do.