We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. — Hebrews 6:19-20
Faith offers us the belief of eternity, but we live in, and are driven by, the hope that Jesus is at the other end of our journey.
KEY QUESTION: How do I deal with the hardships and struggles of life?
As we look closely at the virtue of hope, it is important to understand clearly what faith is. When we choose to exercise faith, we have no idea of what is coming ahead, but we believe God knows, and we believe He has the future in His control — no matter what.
The author of Genesis describes how God worked in Abram’s life, and how Abram responded:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him. — Genesis 12:1-4
Abram expressed faith. He listened to God and acted on what he was told to do. The author of Hebrews provides this memorable definition of faith:
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1
If faith begins the journey, then hope ends the journey. Hope is absolutely knowing where the road of faith will end; it is being confident of where the story concludes. Hope gives us the ability to endure the hardships and difficulties along the road of faith. We walk on in the hope of where the road leads.
KEY IDEA: I can cope with the hardships of life because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ.
To better understand biblical hope, we must determine what hope is not. If we live in the hope of our current circumstances — that they will either improve, or at least stay the same — this is a bad idea. We do not have such a guarantee. We can’t sustain this type of hope.
Solomon wisely observed that we all get old — that hair and teeth fall out, things stop working — and eventually we and the people we love all die. Putting our hope in this life leads to colossal disappointments. Solomon called life with no reference to God “meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
But Christ offers something more; He provides what is true and viable — the hope of eternal life. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes,
In this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. — Romans 8:24-25
As Christians, we must place our hope on the promise of what God has told us will come and the promise that Jesus is on the other side of this life. And the grand bonus is that we will be reunited with all those who have gone before us to heaven:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory”. — 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Place your hope in what you will experience one day in God’s new kingdom — eternal life in the very presence of God. This gives us the ability to endure the bumps and bruises along the road of life.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
Hope in Christ gives us a different place to look.
On a day-to-day basis, we have little choice but to stay focused on the physical world we live in. We have bills that need to be paid, problems that are waiting to be solved, and people who demand our attention. Hope of a future where God already resides and is in control, coupled with a home in his renovated and expanded garden for eternity, encourages us to keep looking forward and fix our eyes on Him, not on the world.
For the Christian, the best really is yet to come.
The author of Hebrews describes how hope gives us a different place to look:
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. — Hebrews 12:1-2
Hope in Christ gives us a different way to think. Our minds can be our greatest enemy or our strongest ally. How we think is what we will do and what we will become. Focusing on hope for today, our future, and into eternity creates a positive, optimistic, “glass half full” mind-set. In our mean-spirited, downward-spiraling culture, the person with an attitude of hope and uplifting thoughts will not only be a healthier person but also draw others to Christ by their very being.
The apostle Paul describes this different way to think:
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. — Colossians 3:2
Hope in Christ gives us a different life to live. Do you know someone who lives by the mantra, “If you thought today was bad, just wait until tomorrow”? Few people enjoy being around someone like this. Why? Because we all desperately want to enjoy life! We want to feel contentment and live in the hope of a good day and a brighter tomorrow. New life in Christ is not only a different way to live, but it’s also the best way to live. Lifestyle choices and future direction fueled by the reality of divine expectation form a life based on nothing but hope. In the words of the psalmist,
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. — Psalm 31:24
Since the rise of Christianity and up to the current day, martyrs — those who die because of their faith in Christ — have been a strong segment of the population of believers. Why would someone choose to die rather than renounce Christ? Why would anyone suffer torture at the hands of evil dictators because of a belief they will not rescind? Why would people suffer from a lack of food, water, and medical care solely because they are Christians? What drives them to place their faith above anything else in life? The answer? Hope. What else could be the answer to these questions?
For millions of Christians, the hope of Christ has driven them to survive mind-boggling odds and die peacefully under unspeakable circumstances. The longing to see their Savior on the other side fueled their hearts to endure to the end.
When you come to your final day here on earth, do you want to face it in terror, or do you want to confront it in hope? The great news is that you can face death with hope, but the even better news is that you don’t have to wait until then.
You can experience this hope right now.
So jump on the plane of faith, in the sure knowledge of what and who awaits you on the other end. And in this life, you can echo the words of the psalmist in Psalm 33:20-22:
We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.
Excerpted with permission Think, Act, Be Like Jesus, by Randy Frazee, copyright Zondervan.