There we sat at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota—the explanation for our visit requiring a lot of words that spell check doesn’t recognize.
Suffice it to say, we had a scare.
Our schedule was filled with hours of waiting and intermittent appointments and tests.
We waited in the lobby, lab, cafeteria, exam room, coffee shop, atrium, and elevator.
Behind a reception desk, I noticed a back-lit sign glowing with the word HOPE at its center.
Surrounding it, in smaller print, hope was translated into many different languages using different alphabets including dots that represented Braille.
Hope is exactly what every patient is looking for when they arrive.In every language, and for all people, biblical hope is not a flimsy longing.Click To Tweet
No matter what language or alphabet they use, or how scared or relieved they feel, everyone in the hospital that day was longing for something good.
And every language has a word for what we all want and need.
But there’s an ironic sadness in equating medicine with hope.
The doctors don’t always know.
The diagnosis is sometimes uncertain.
And when it is, treatment is merely an educated guess by the best professionals in the field.
For all the brilliance and dedication represented by scientists squinting through microscopes and scrutinizing thermal imaging, even the best hospital cannot offer unshakeable certainty.
It’s one thing to feel disappointed with the best guesses of a highly equipped medical community.
After all, they’re only human.
It’s quite another to feel disappointed with Jesus.
In Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19). He was with God from the beginning, and He is God (John 1:1).
So when Jesus does not do what He is perfectly capable of doing, we feel disappointed.
Perhaps even devastated.
If you’ve placed your hope in Christ and felt disappointed with what appears to be His inaction and your own dashed hope, you’ve got some good company in the gospels.If you’ve placed your hope in Christ and felt disappointed with what appears to be his inaction and your own dashed hope, you’ve got some good company in the gospels.Click To Tweet
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus’.
He slept in their guest room, ate at their table, and felt so at home that He invited friends to come and stay too.
When their brother was very ill, they didn’t need a hospital to call on. They sent a message to Jesus saying, “The one you love is sick” (John 11:3).
They didn’t bother to name Lazarus or say what was wrong because they knew Jesus knew.
You’d expect the next verses to read, “When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, He rushed away from his ministry to heal his friend.”
But Jesus took the more drastic route.
He waited, and then He showed up way too late.
“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.” (John 11:17)
Mary and Martha had properly hoped in Christ, and they were disappointed.
Jesus did not do what they expected He would do.
He did not hurry to heal.
He chose something different in order to glorify His father in front of a large, grieving, tomb-side audience.
Maybe you’re waiting at the lab right now, praying for a negative (or positive) result.
Perhaps you’re staring down the long tube pumping poison (or prescription) into your body.
The possibility of hope is there, but where is the certainty?Standing in brilliant contrast to our modern usage, biblical hope is an expectation of what is sure and certain.Click To Tweet
Our modern usage of the word “hope” is tainted with unlikelihood and doubt.
I hope the treatment works. (But there is a possibility it won’t.)
This medication is our last hope. (If it doesn’t work, we’re out of options.)
It appears to be a flimsy longing subject to unpredictable chances.
Standing in brilliant contrast to our modern usage, biblical hope is an expectation of what is sure and certain.
What Christ offers is not merely the possibility of some future good.
He also gives promises for our present reality and future certainty that we can count on. Here are 4 biblical promises of hope for disappointed people.
#1. Jesus’ Presence is Continual
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
Jesus has gone before us through the clinic doors, into the noisy cylinder for an MRI.
He is infinitely acquainted with the invention of Braille, and he knows the implications of diagnoses that spellcheck cannot recognize.Our hope is a confident expectation of all God has promised us today and in the future.Click To Tweet
#2. Jesus is Always Working for Our Good
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
It would have been hard to convince Mary and Martha that Jesus’ “too-late” arrival was for the glory of God, even after Jesus told them, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God” (John 11:40).
But from this side of history we know it was.
God does not change, and two millennia later we trust the same God who works in unexpected and glorious ways.
#3. Jesus Gives Us More Than We Can Imagine
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)
Mary and Martha discovered that Jesus doesn’t always do what we want or abide by our expedient timeline.
But they could each testify that when we place our hope in Christ, He gives more than we can imagine and rarely what we expect.When we place our hope in Christ, He gives more than we can imagine and rarely what we expect.Click To Tweet
#4. Jesus Offers Us Hope That Does Not Disappoint
“…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27b (NIV)
Christ in you is the certainty—the confident assurance—of future wholeness.
Regardless of whether the tumor shrinks, or lost vision returns, we can hope in our certain, eternal healing.
One day, perhaps sooner than we expect, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4-5)
In every language, and for all people, biblical hope is not a flimsy longing. Because it is guaranteed by Christ, “our hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:5)
Hope is a Confident Expectation of God’s Promises
Our hope is a confident expectation of all God has promised us today and in the future.
It is a remarkable hope.
If you are struggling to find hope in your current situation, I encourage you to spend time in God’s word, repeating His current and future promises over your life.
– Shauna Letellier
Enter to win a free copy of Shauna’s new book!
Remarkable Hope retells the stories of eight hopeful people in the Bible who appeared—at first—to be disappointed by Jesus. Their stories reveal a pattern of being surprised by Jesus in drastic ways. As we observe Christ’s faithful commitment to them, we will be wowed by his unseen plan and revived by his enduring presence.
With unexpected methods and surprising gifts, Jesus transforms disappointment into the certainty of remarkable hope. Not only for them, but for us too. We can finally discover what the apostle Paul declared, “our hope does not disappoint us.”
Shauna Letellier is the author of Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People. Drawing upon her degree in Biblical Studies, she weaves strands of history, theology, and fictional detail into a fresh retelling of familiar Bible stories in her books and on her blog. With her husband Kurt, she has the wild and hilarious privilege of raising three boys along the banks of the Missouri River where they fish, swim, and rush off to ball games. You can also connect with Shauna on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.