The deeper roots of hope

What will give us confidence that God will 'win'? Where will we find confidence that his kingdom will succeed, hope to carry on with his work, as a church? John Woodhouse wrote this:

"As I write these words I find myself living and working in an evangelical theological college that has more students in training for gospel ministry than ever before. Should that give me hope? The missionary society with which I have closest links has a record number of candidates for overseas missionary work. Should that give me hope? In the city in which I live, these are exciting days for the gospel of Jesus. Plans and strategies for gospel growth are being formed and tried. Some of them are working! Church planting is the latest focus. We have Christian leaders with vision and quite remarkable ability. Should all that give me hope?

Many of the students at our college have come because they have been inspired by what is going on. They are hopeful that the kingdom of God is advancing in our day, and in various ways they hope to be part of the action. They see the value of giving their lives to this movement.

One of my longings for each of these students is this: Without dampening their excitement or cooling their enthusiasm or quelling their delight in the work of God that appears to he happening, I pray that their hopes will be given deeper roots. I long that they will so know God and his ways that their joy will survive - no, thrive - even when or if the numbers in church go into decline, and the strategy turns out to be a failure, and the church plant withers, and the movement that may have inspired them seems, to all appearances, to be over."
(John Woodhouse, 1 Samuel, p181)