A few weeks ago, we talked about choosing to trust in moments of adversity. The idea that trusting is a choice is fairly easy to grasp, but what we might not realize is that hope is similar. I’ve often perceived hope as something you either have or you don’t have. In those moments of adversity, when life is it’s hardest and I’m surrounded by enemies or obstacles, I tend to think that hope is either present or absent. But just as trusting is a choice, we can also choose to inject hope into seemingly hopeless situations.
This weekend, our elementary kids will continue their month of “courage” by following Moses’ story to the Red Sea (click here to read it). They will see God’s people immediately doubt their leader in the face of a hopeless situation. In the story, the Israelites are flanked on both sides by either Pharaoh’s men or the Red Sea, and escape seems impossible. So what’s their brilliant plan? They verbally thrash Moses and wish that they were still slaves!
Hopelessness can cause us to wish for ridiculous things, just so we can get out of our present situation. But God calls us to much more than settling for slavery. In hard times, he calls us to not wish for different circumstances, but mind His promises and His love. He calls us to choose to put our hope in Him when all else seems lost. In verse 14, Moses exhorts the Hebrews to make this choice when he tells them to remember that “the Lord, your God, will fight for you.”
Similarly, in Psalm 31, David writes about all the wrongs he has committed in his life before making a conscious choice: “But I trust in you oh Lord; I say that you are my God.” Jeremiah does the same in Lamentations when, once again, he speaks of his hopeless situation before calling to mind God’s goodness. He chooses hope: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed…his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” These great people of God don’t deny their present suffering or convince themselves that they’re overreacting, but rather acknowledge both: their suffering and God’s greatness.
This weekend, the kids will walk away having learned that they can do what they should do, even when matters seem impossible. I challenge you to take that a step further with them: Remind them that they can have courage (and hope), not because of their own strength, but because of who God is. Each night this week, read a different verse with them before they go to bed. Choose verses that remind us of God’s unfailing love and show them how to either use the reference pages found in the back of most Bibles or look the verses up online. If you’re unsure of how to do either, then here are a few suggestions that go along with this month’s theme of “courage”:
“Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be terrified because of them. The Lord your God will go with you. He will never leave you. He’ll never desert you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, NIrV
“Trust in the Lord forever. The Lord himself is the Rock. The Lord will keep us safe forever.” Isaiah 26:4, NIrV
“Others make us suffer. But God does not desert us. We are knocked down. But we are not knocked out.” 2 Corinthians 4:9, NIrV
“The Lord is my light, and he saves me. Why should I fear anyone? The Lord is my place of safety. Why should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1, NIrV
“The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need.” Psalm 23:1, NIrV
I remember when I first became a Christian at the age of 17 and marveled at people who could recite scripture off the top of their heads. I used to think that there was no way I would ever know enough of the Bible to internalize it. I was starting too late. Then, one day, I realized I had read the same verse so many times that I had memorized it: Philippians 4:13. Then, sometime down the road, it happened again, and suddenly I knew two verses. Before I knew it, more scripture had been written on my heart than I realized, simply because I chose to read and read again and read again. To help your kids choose hope, start by reading them the scripture that will allow them to do so. And if you’re learning alongside them, that’s great too! Just remember to take it one verse—and one choice—at a time.