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In Micah 4, we considered the Lord’s promise of revival. A day would come when Mount Zion would rise above all the other mountains. A day would come, in other words, when the church of Jesus Christ would grow to dominate the world.

But while giving this promise, the Lord continued to speak of the Assyrian judgement. Despite the glorious promise given, Zion would “writhe and groan” as the Assyrians fell upon them in judgement. A natural question arises: How would God fulfil his promise? How would Israel both suffer punishment and experience God’s promise of dominance? Chapter 5 answers that question. It does so by showing that the Lord would do two things: He would provide a ruler (vv. 1–6), and he would protect his remnant (vv. 7–15).

Of course, these were promises that must be embraced even when they could not be seen. In introducing the book of Micah, I quoted from Leanna Crawford’s “The Truth I’m Standing On.” Let me do so again. Crawford sings of choosingto believe God’s promises in her pain, with faith that “someday I’ll look back and see all the pain had a purpose.” She highlights the reality that, in the moment of pain and doubt, it’s not always possible to see God’s purpose. In the moment, we must often choose to believe, looking with faith to possibly seeing God’s purpose in the future.

Micah’s audience needed to hear this truth. The promised ruler’s arrival lay centuries in their future. They would not experience his shepherding or the security he provided in their lifetime. Their immediate future was one of pain and destruction. In that pain and destruction, they needed to rest in God’s promises of future hope.

In times of crisis, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control. It is easy to despair of finding any hope in sorrow. Micah 5 reminds us that hope involves waiting. Hope involves choosing to believe right now that God’s promises will come true and that his purposes will be effective. It involves a developing confidence that the one who makes promises will fulfil them so that we can approach life with peaceful assurance that things will work out for our ultimate good. Trials test our faith. Trials shake our confidence, even if only temporarily. But God’s promises provide a solid foundation for hope.

Micah’s audience could not avoid the unpleasant facts of the Assyrian invasion. But they could face that invasion with hope because Bethlehem Ephrathah would produce a ruler who would stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God. The true remnant could endure the invasion because their God would protect them and would ultimately “in anger and wrath … execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey” (v. 15).

For Micah’s hearers, hope was not rooted only in what God had done for them in the past (though it was rooted partiallyin that) but also in what he would do for them in the future. Hope was rooted in God’s promise to bring the messianic ruler into the world. Hope was rooted in Jesus Christ.

In our affliction, we need to root our hope in Jesus Christ. Even when affliction blinds us to every sign of hope, we need to root our hope in the fact that God loved us enough to give his Son for us, and that Christ loved us enough to die for us, and that the Spirit loved us enough to seal our salvation with his own promises. We need to root our hope in affliction in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ruler promised by Micah came. He stood and shepherded his flock in the strength of the Lord his God. He continues to do so today—even in their suffering. We can dwell secure in the promise that his name will be great to the ends of the earth. He is our peace, even in suffering.

But, in our affliction, we also need to root our hope in the ultimate promise of deliverance. Suffering may be our lot now. But it will not always be. The one who came as a babe in a manger rules from his throne in heaven today. But we have the promise that he will one day return bodily to earth to resurrect his people, who will enter into eternal, unsuffering life with him. Right now, we choose to believe. One day, we will look back and see that our pain had a purpose and that his plan was perfect all along. That is the truth we stand on.

As you meditate on Micah 5 this morning, ask God for hope-filled perspective. Thank him for the ruler from Bethlehem and ask him to help you choose to believe his promises right now even as you await the day when your hope will turn to sight.