Hope: we always welcome “hope” in this life, don’t we? Where there’s hope there’s a future. Hope gives us reason to press on... to keep moving... to look for and expect better things ahead!
We need hope. Especially in light of so much hopelessness around us: with all the violence we see on the evening news… inflation… war in Europe… the grief over losses suffered in a pandemic that may never completely go away.
We need hope: because we live in an ever more polarized world that seeks to demonize everyone who thinks differently, and seems to have genuinely lost the concept of democracy – or at least lost the idea of consensus. I’d say we could all use a good dose of hope!
We need hope: because, today - in many ways - things seem worse than ever… and there’s little doubt that several indicators, or metrics (be they economic or social), are telling us that in some ways things are worse than before. The people in charge of the “World Doomsday Clock” have moved the minute hand to “90 seconds till midnight.” We’re closer, by their report, to WWIII than at any point prior! Things certainly seem worse than ever!
But hasn’t every generation said that? I’m not saying things couldn’t stand to be improved… but maybe things seem so out of control and hopeless today - because we’re living this moment. Every generation has had its share of trial and grief. Life treats us that way…
Maybe things seem so bad and “out of control” because we’ve taken our eyes off of Christ. Since when did God’s Word tell us that our hope is defined by the world? By our politicians? By the economy? By the church? Since when did we become a people whose hope is in the seen, rather than the unseen?
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
You and I have been called to “look to Jesus (to keep our eyes fixed on Christ) the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross...” (Hebrews 12:2)
I think sometimes we forget: that Jesus suffered for us. Jesus knew suffering. The people of Jesus’ day knew suffering and trial. They knew of persecution… of corruption… of oppression. They knew of famine and war and disease.
The Apostle Paul himself spoke of such things: And proclaimed he would boast of his sufferings… Why?
Because: Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, produces character, character produces hope… And hope does not disappoint us. Not because we can’t be disappointed! For heaven’s sake, we’ve all experienced disappointments in life.
But because our hope is not in the things of this world.
If our hope was only in the things of this world, our suffering would be meaningless… as suffering for sufferings sake is always meaningless. Paul says, “I boast in sufferings” because our sufferings unite us, they bond us, with Christ = who suffered for a reason. His suffering bought our salvation… there was purpose behind his suffering.
And there’s purpose behind our sufferings, too. Our trials are meant to separate the wheat from the chaff. To bring us closer to God... to make us more dependent on Christ.
The Apostle Paul said, “I pleaded with the Lord on multiple occasions to remove my suffering (my thorn in the flesh)”... yet God said what? My grace is sufficient for you.”
Our hope is not in the sufferings of this life… Our hope’s not found in perseverance for the sake of perseverance! It’s about more than having grit and determination.
Our hope is not based on my character, or your character… Not based on how devoted we are, how faithful we are, how righteous we are. Our hope goes much, much further than that.
Our hope is in Christ alone, our hope is an eternal hope... our hope is an assurance. An assurance that the one who loves us first and loves us most, will never leave us, nor for sake us. No matter how difficult life can get, no matter the struggle, no matter the persecution… or the heartache.
Like the old hymns declares: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!” for “my faith has found a resting place, not in device, nor creed; I trust the Ever-living One, His wounds for me shall plead!” For “I know Whom I have believed, and I’m persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day!”
In Christ alone, my hope is found!