Back when I was starting to read deeply, I picked up a Hebrews commentary and read it straight through. That was my first time doing such a thing. Commentaries are not meant to be read like that. But such was my hunger in the face of my ignorance. I don’t remember much from that book, but I do remember one particular section that affected me.
In Hebrews chapter 6, the author connects the promise made to Abraham to the promise made to us in Christ. When I read that, and the notes on that passage, I was undone. It was like that moment when you have all the puzzle pieces in front of you, and they finally begin to make sense. When God made the promise to Abraham, He swore by the highest thing there was—Himself. He was the guarantee of His faithfulness to the promise made to Abraham.
I can remember understanding for the first time that Christ gave His life for us because we weren’t faithful and had broken God’s covenant. Christ, who is God, not only kept covenant, but also died as a fully human representative for those who could not keep covenant. When I, as a young college student, saw that God in Christ was the guarantee of His love for us, my mind was blown. It changed everything.
Fast-forward twenty-plus years. What had blown my mind as a young man was beginning to penetrate my weary heart. Four in the morning was becoming a time I was well-acquainted with. And the fears and worries that reared their ugly heads the minute I awoke were also becoming unwelcome companions. In these times, my temptation is to make promises to God. If I’m fearful about one of my children, I make a promise to do better as a parent. If I’m worried about work, I try to bargain with God to secure His help with my job. I forget the promise that God has already made and kept, and this forgetfulness leads to a lack of hope.
I’m someone who has every reason to hope but often forgets where hope lies. I keep living as if my hope is in what I do. My own works, and promises of more and better works, are far too often my hope and refuge at 4 a.m., and trust me, they bring no comfort. But when I can finally get a sane thought, I remember what I learned as a young man: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure“ (Hebrews 6:19).
Sleep doesn’t always come. But there is always rest when I place my hope in Him.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond