We will be singing "In Christ Alone" this Sunday at my church, and the words to the first verse have been continually running through my head and heart since we rehearsed it Wed night.
"In Christ alone, my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm;
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease;
My comforter, my All in all, here in the love of Christ I stand."
When we've sung this song in the past, I've always relished the last 2 verses. (Really, though, every single verse in this song is completely awesome and SO powerful.) But after this past year, this first verse stands out to me the most. My hope is not found in my family, in circumstances going the way I want them to, or even in whether God answers my prayers the way I want Him to. My hope and your hope is found IN CHRIST. ALONE. The word "hope" is a weird word to me, that I often confuse with faith. It's also a very important & meaningful word to me. My middle name is Hope. We buried Rusty in the "Garden of Hope". The passage Kevin shared with me the day after Rusty died that I have clung to ever since is Lamentations 3:21 - 33. That first verse says, "This I recall to mind, therefore I have HOPE" (emphasis mine). I could be wrong, but here's how I think of hope versus faith. Faith is the unbreakable assurance that all God's promises are true. Sometimes, though, storms come and shake our faith. The waves get so big that it's hard to fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith, and we get tempted to look down at the waves instead. I think hope is that expectation that keeps us looking in the direction we last saw faith. Faith is the beacon shining from the lighthouse. Hope is the instinct that compels us forward into the storm, in the direction we last remember seeing the light shining, even when we can't see a thing and all we can feel is pain and confusion. When people lose all hope, like my brother did, they fall under the storm-ravaged waves. Faith never stopped shining as a beacon, but they lost the expectation (or hope) of ever finding it again and they lost their bearings.
But just as Christ is the Author and Finisher or Perfecter of our faith, this song reminds us that He is also our only source of hope. He is steadfast even through the fiercest storm. The heights of His love for us are limitless. The depths of His peace are unfathomable. When we cling to Him alone as our source of hope, our fears are stilled, and our strivings cease. For me, it makes me stop striving to figure out the answers to all my questions about Rusty's death. It makes me stop wrestling with God's sovereignty, and to be still and rest in His comfort and love. I'm tempted to say, "I can't stop and rest now! I have to keep my hand on the tiller. I have to control the rudder and make sure this vessel is heading the direction I want it to." But Jesus is the Captain. He's at the helm. If I let go and rest in Him, and put my hope in Him alone, I will find that He always, ALWAYS guides me safely to the harbor He has prepared for me. So what are you putting your hope in today? Are you ready to let it go and cling to Jesus alone? I can promise you it's always the best choice.