“Due to budgetary constraints, the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off.” This was the opening caption in a local newsletter, which I subscribe to. Most days, that statement seems like an accurate description of the reality on the ground: Every time you think you are making inroads, the goal posts shift; the people you are serving and ministering to decide that this is too hard a journey to travel; government policies change and suddenly there are new bureaucratic processes to scale; injustice and evil seem to triumph as those who should be protectors have become oppressors. Living and serving in a ‘not so functional’ Global South nation—where all of the above are daily realities—how then does one live and lead in the midst of difficult and discouraging circumstances?
Hope is the powerful tool that keeps mankind looking forward to a better outcome in whatever is being faced. Zimbabweans are said to be eternally hopeful, probably the trait that has kept us moving forward. This hope however, is not always founded in the right place or person.
Hope has been defined1 as a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. This hope differs from mere wish and desire in that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it.
When hope is anchored in the Lord, it will never be dashed by circumstances or people, because He is faithful and unchanging—Christ in us, the hope of glory.2 In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength”.
On days when it seems the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off, I am continually learning the meaning of encouraging oneself in the Lord. In recent months, I have been meditating on these words from Romans: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”.3 Hope does not disappoint…because God. That is a complete sentence, needing no further description or explanation…because God!
When we look at the unfinished task of reaching close to three billion people who have never heard the gospel, it can look daunting, impossible and unachievable, more so as one looks at world events. We can, however, live and lead in the midst of such circumstances, if our perspective is that this is His work, that He is not done, that the story is still being written and that in the end He wins. Then we can live as David did, with a fearless trust in the Lord that declared, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.4
The Lord is our light at the end of the tunnel. Therefore, we can take courage: He has overcome the world!5 This hope, which is built on Jesus, is the anchor for our souls as we serve in His vineyard.
1. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/hope (accessed 5 September 2018) | 2. Colossians 1:27 | 3. Romans 5:3-5 ESV | 4. Psalm 27:13 NKJV | 5. John 16:33
Jessica is currently serving as the field leader for OM in Zimbabwe. Before joining OM in 2016, she served with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), Foundations for Farming and World Vision Zimbabwe. She is a discipler at heart, loves the Word and loves to see people understand it and love God!