December, in our part of Africa, brings with it not only Christmas and the end of the year, but also the advent of the rainy season. For months the landscape is dry, dusty, brown, showing little to no signs of life. There are no crops growing in the fields during the dry season; it is often called the “hungry season” since many months have passed since the last harvest. The poor, who depend on their crops for their very survival, struggle during those months to provide just one small meal for their families. Farmers ache for the rains and even the land it seems, cries out for relief.
Then, December arrives and hopes for better things are renewed. Clouds, heavy with rain, begin to appear in the sky and the rumbling of thunderstorms announce the rains are near. Finally the day comes when torrents of rain fall onto the parched grounds and within 24 hours, the landscape begins to change. Fields have already been prepared in hopeful anticipation of the rains, and in a matter of days, the crops begin to sprout – hope springs new!
The bush country also comes to life; the seemingly dead bushes and dry grass quickly spring up. The forest animals suddenly have an endless supply of food; they eat (and are eaten) to their hearts’ content. The months of struggle are over and the promise of new life has come.
Romans 4:18 NRSV “Hoping against hope, he (Abraham) believed…”
In the same way we know the rains will come and restore the hopes of many in Africa for a good harvest, we hope against hope, believing God’s promises despite the utter hopelessness of what we see with our eyes.
Abraham didn’t clearly see how he was going to receive the promise that God had made him. He was imperfect and even tried on his own to find the path to the promise. He knew that God had promised him “rain” but he didn’t know when or how it would come.
We forget, like Abraham did when waiting for his promise, to hope against hope: hope when all odds are stacked against us. We, too, have moments when we try to make the promise come to pass in our own in our own way. But the rains fail and the land remains dry and parched; we wonder when the promise will come.
Our hope is based on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus – but we allow doubt to resurrect instead of hope. The power of our resurrected doubt then begins to eclipse the power of the resurrection in us and hope dims and then our faith is snuffed out for without hope we can’t have faith (Hebrews 11:1). Without faith, how then can we live?
Romans 1:17 NKJ “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
This verse isn’t (at least shouldn’t be) a verse we only quote. Faith is what we live by, it is what sustains us, it is what grows us, and faith is what enables us to reach for future promises.
There is an “epic” battle waging against our faith and our sight – and to live by faith; faith must always win that battle. In this battle, our spirits battle to depend on God, and our carnal natures are battling for independence from God. If our carnal nature wins, the future God has promised us will wither as the rain of hope has gone.
I pray that your hope springs new today as you win the war for hope and faith. May the rains of hope for new life fall in abundance.
“Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.” Augustine