"Where there is no vision the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18)
What is a vision? It is our hope! A vision is the goal or dream set before each one of us. It is the target for our life. Without hope, a goal, we are aimless and without purpose in our Christian life. We have nothing to shoot for. Even though we may have all the faith in the world and know a great numbers of scriptures, if we have given up hope, these things profit us nothing.
"Hope deferred (put away) makes the heart sick." (Proverbs 13:20)
Many times hope is lost because the desires we have had in our hearts have not come to pass when we thought they would. I have had church members tell me that no one ever trusted God more than they did, and yet God did not come through. Whether they want to admit it or not, they are blaming their frustrations and impatience on God.
What we must always remember is that God has never failed any of us and He cannot fail us. It is blasphemous to think God would not fulfill all of His promises. If His promises are not being fulfilled in our lives, the problem is not with God, but with us.
Most likely, we did not really develop our faith and trust in Him by following His plan, but we expected Him to back our plans and fulfill our desires. Or, maybe we set our time frame for everything He promised us to happen. Then, when the promises did not come to pass, we felt as if God had let us down. However, if we seek God, find out His plan for our lives, and walk in simple obedience to His Word, eventually we can do nothing but succeed.
"Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be." (Romans 4:18)
A great example for us today is Abraham, a man who lost his hope and regained it after many years. His story begins in Genesis 12:1, when God first told him to leave Ur of the Chaldees and take only his wife, Sarai, with him. He partially obeyed God by leaving his homeland, but he took his father and nephew, Lot, with him.
Abram had been such a successful man in Ur, that it was hard for him to forsake everything that he had. He wanted to obey God, but he also wanted to keep an "ace in the hole" in case God failed. So he brought his father along to insure that he would keep the prosperity and power he had enjoyed in Ur.
His disobedience to God's command set him back five years, and bringing Lot with him cost him many more years. Finally, when Abram got to the Promised Land, it did not flow with milk and honey as God had told him. There was famine in the land, and there was not enough food and water to sustain the tremendous number of people Abram had brought with him.
At this time in his walk with the Lord, Abram was still operating according to his own understanding, and because there was drought in Canaan, Abram took Sarai and his people to Egypt, where the grass looked greener. It was much later in his life that he learned that God "calls those things which be not as though they were" (Romans 4:18), and that God could have fed them even in a famine.
Then, in order to save his own life, he gave his wife to the king of Egypt, insisting that she was his sister. Ultimately, God had to intervene to save Sarai's life. Although they were thrown out of Egypt when the king discovered Abrams' deceit, Abram was still not through trying to control his own life. He and Sarai tried to fulfill God's promise for a child themselves. They brought back a slave girl from Egypt, and Abram had a son through her. Now all havoc broke loose in the house! It wasn't until Abram put both Hagar and their son, Ishmael, out of the house that he came to the end of himself.
Twenty-four years had passed, and Abram and Sarai were no closer to have a miracle child than they were in Ur. In fact, it was more impossible now than it had been then, because physically they were very old in years.
Abram was perishing without a vision. His heart was sick because his hope had been put away. All of his own plans had failed, and Abram faced a choice. He could remain discouraged, blaming God for his failure, and live out his Christian life in misery until he died; or, he could forget those things which were behind and again find the mark of God's high calling for his life (Philippians 3:13, 14). We find in Genesis 17 that Abram chose the latter.
God reconfirmed the covenant with Abram and gave him the same promise He had given in the beginning, "so shall your descendants be" (Genesis 15:5 and 17:7). Abram was not given a new promise, but he received a new revelation of the original promise. His hope, his vision, and his goal were reestablished. Abram's name was changed to Abraham (father of many nations) and Sarai's name (contentious) was changed to Sarah (princess).
Abraham and Sarah could have had Isaac many years sooner, but the good news is that they did finally have him! Aren't you glad to know that God's promise and will for their lives did not change because of their unbelief and failures, and God's promises do not rise or fall on our successes or failures, either! When Abraham and Sarah decided to put their trust in God, they found His promise that they would have a son just as real and powerful as when they had received it twenty-four years earlier.