The difficult, precious business of HOPE

…because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…. (Colossians 1:5)

…this hope we have as an anchor for our souls.  (Hebrews 6:19)

I’m eighty years old as I sit here at this laptop in my breakfast room, typing away.  I live in hope.  Hope for all that Christ has promised is a big, big thing with me.

I often seize upon Psalm 27:13 I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Hope is not mentioned there, but that’s what it’s talking about.

Hope or despair.  Those are the two choices.

The only choices.

Hope is a nebulous concept for most people.  We hear it said that no one can live without hope, that a suicide was the result of hopelessness, and that hope is a product of a strong faith.  But I suspect many believers have a difficult time getting their brains around the concept.

Let’s see if we can help.  First, a few scriptures on the subject, then I want to share something C. S. Lewis said about hope.

–After Colossians 1:5 (above) on “the hope laid up for you in heaven,”  Paul writes that the plan is to “present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight–if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard….” (1:22-23).

–After presenting God’s plan for a blessed future in Romans 8, Paul writes: “We were saved in this hope; but hope that is seen is not hope.  For why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  (Romans 8:24-25).

I like to think of Faith and Hope as twins:  Each is grounded in a strong trust in the promises and integrity of our Lord, but Faith pertains to the here and now while Hope has a future aspect to it.  In Colossians 1:4-5, Paul tells the believers he has heard of their faith in Christ Jesus, of their love for all the saints, “because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven….”  They’re all–faith, love, hope–aspects of the same reality which is the new life in Christ.

John MacArthur says: Unlike the English word hope, the NT word contains no uncertainty; it speaks of something that is certain, but not yet realized.  The believer’s ultimate destiny is to share in the very glory of God (see John 17:22;  2 Cor. 3:18; Philippians 3:20-21) and that hope will be realized because Christ Himself secures it (First Timothy 1:1).  Without the clear and certain promises of the Word of God, the believer would have no basis for hope (Romans 15:4; Psalm 119:81,114; Ephesians 2:12; Jeremiah 14:8).

In The Joyful Christian, C. S. Lewis left us some great insights about Christian hope….

Hope means a continual looking forward to the eternal world, not as a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.  It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.  If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.

The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.  Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in;’ aim at Earth and you will get neither.

I’m remembering something my wife Margaret–in Heaven now for nearly six years–used to say about anticipation.  She loved to schedule a wonderful event–a trip to see loved ones, a celebration of some kind–weeks or even months in the future.  “It energizes my days having that to look forward to and plan for.”  She did not use the word hope, but that’s what it’s all about.

Such hope, says the writer of Hebrews, is a soul-anchor.  Just before that declaration, the sacred writer says, “We have strong consolation, we who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

Jesus Christ is our hope.  “…the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope” (I Timothy 1:1).

It’s all about Jesus.

Funny how it always comes back to that, isn’t it?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.