The solution to keeping your heart ablaze with hope is redirecting your eyes to Christ.
When your eyes remain fixed on your circumstances, or the bad hand you’ve been dealt in life, or the recent wrong someone’s done to you, your hope gets snuffed out.
Samwise Gamgee – yes, that Hobbit guy from The Lord of the Rings– made the same mistake. Towards the end of the trilogy, he and Frodo are behind enemy lines. They’re in the “Land of Shadow,” Mordor. For you non-fantasy folk, that’s bad-guy HQ.
So far, the pair had endured some awful stuff. But Sam had remained hopeful, keeping his eyes on the mission: to save the world. Even when Frodo despairs, Sam urges him forward. However, in a key moment, even Sam abandons hope. They’re hiding in a bush, and Sam looks out to survey tomorrow’s trek across the Plains of Gorgorath (again, even if you aren’t a nerd, that just sounds bad!). It overwhelms him.
It’s here that Tolkien pens four of the most tragic words in literature: “Sam’s hopeful spirit quailed.” Oh, man. Have you ever lost hope like that? Your bright and bubbly disposition blackened like burnt popcorn? I’ve been there too often. With marriage, with friendships, with my reputation, with my future. Suddenly, in a stroke of life at its cruelest, I simply lose hope.
The danger of self-focus
We can learn from Sam. We must. For it’s not just that he lost hope, but how he lost hope, that teaches us a lesson. Sam lost hope the moment his eyes fixated on his circumstances. In other words, our hope flourishes or dies depending on where our eyes are looking.
Obsession with any aspect of our life sours in time.
But when we elevate our eyes, and pin them on Jesus, hope again burns brightly.
That’s why the Bible commands us to consider Him (Hebrews 12:3), to remember His works (Psalm 77:11), to decrease as He increases (John 3:30). Self-focus is spiritual paralysis. What we behold we become (2 Corinthians 3:18).
You know, back to Sam – his “quailed hope” didn’t last long. That very night, inside the bush, his eyes drifted upwards, above the shadow of his life, rising above the present (and real!) dangers around him, and beyond the difficult path before him. Here’s what he sees:
“Far above…in…the night-sky…there, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear, and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”
Your dangers, crises, circumstances and odds are difficult. And real. And perhaps awful. But Jesus is not. And He reminds us that in the end, however present the Shadow is, it is a small and passing thing. Light and high beauty are yours forever, in Him. For He has overcome the world. For He has created a new dwelling place, our eternal home.
Keep your eyes there.
Copyright © 2019 by Justin Talbert @ https://getgroundedministries.com . Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org