Memo 1005: Get Your Hopes Up
It's interesting how many stories we can look at in the Old Testament to help us unlock our New Testament faith. This week and next, we return to the life of Elisha to examine another encounter between a prophet and a woman of faith. Let's go there now to see what we can glean to help us in our own walk of faith.
THIS TIME NEXT YEAR
This woman was well-to-do and first urged the prophet to stop by her house for a meal whenever he was passing through. She didn't stop there but wanted to extend even more hospitality as we are told: "She said to her husband, 'I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us'" (2 Kings 4:9-10). Elisha took her up on her offer and then,
One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I have a home among my own people" (2 Kings 4:11-13).
Elisha had to probe deeper to find out what the woman really needed, but was perhaps afraid to request: "Gehazi [Elisha's servant] said, 'She has no son, and her husband is old.' Then Elisha said, 'Call her.' So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 'About this time next year,' Elisha said, 'you will hold a son in your arms'" (2 Kings 4:14-16).
The woman was afraid to ask for too much so she asked for nothing at all. Perhaps she never thought it possible she would or could have a child at that point in her life, but it seems she was afraid to ask for one because she didn't want to get her hopes up only to be disappointed: "'No, my lord!' she objected. 'Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!' But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her" (2 Kings 4:!6b-17).
One way to unlock your faith is to ask for what is really in your heart that fear may be keeping under lock and key. In Mark 10:51, even Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus ""What do you want me to do for you?" It would seem obvious that a blind person would want sight, but Jesus still asked the obvious, not for His benefit but for the blind man's. Perhaps it's a question He's asking you but, like the woman, you are hesitant to respond. The reality is that if you ask, next year by this time you could have what you ask for and your life could be transformed—along with your faith.
I won't seek to define faith and hope and outline their differences. Suffice it to say that it seems faith and hope go hand in hand. When you lose your hope, you don't exercise your faith. Then you can't ask in faith for what seems to you to be impossible because you've lost hope. Like the woman, you may not want to get your hopes up, but if you are going to unlock the power of your faith, you must get your hopes up. I have hope that one day I will write and then see one of my books become a "best seller." I have faith for that to happen and I hope it happens in my lifetime, but it may not. Regardless, I ask for it in faith and I have hope that by this time next year, it could happen. If God ever asks me what He can do for me, I have a ready response for that—and a few more things.
I'm not here to prophesy that "by this time next year, you will have your breakthrough." I'm here to tell you it's possible and part of making it possible is for you to drag out of the dungeon of your heart some special need or request you imprisoned there a while back. Then in faith (for with faith, it's possible to please God) boldly and clearly state your desire. As we will see next week, a problem in the son's life caused the woman to be much more specific to see her need met, and I would like to think she learned her lesson to ask boldly from the circumstances surrounding her son's birth. Until next week, however, I urge you to answer Elisha's and Jesus' question, "What do you want me to do for you?" and when you do, ask in faith and have hope. Have a blessed week!