All too often, in my ministry, I minister to people who suffer from the loss of hope. Hope should be one of the most powerful, energizing and enabling resources we have in the Christian life. When one loses hope it is the inevitable consequence of losing sight of Christ and focusing instead on earthly conflicts and struggles.
Like faith and love, hope is extolled as a primary and glorious grace of the Christian life. “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
In the New Testament, the word “hope” does not have the idea of “maybe so,” but rather of “I know so!” It contains the ideas of:
- Unshakeable confidence. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Hebrews 6:17-19).
- Circumstantial consistency. “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).
- Heartening consolation. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
- Steadfast character. “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (Philippians 1:20).
- Demonstrated credibility. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Our hope is not based on earthly realities or tangible resources but rather on the certainty of Jesus our resurrected Lord and His unfailing promises and unfaltering faithfulness. Because Jesus is the creator of all things (Colossians 1:16), the sustainer of all things (Psalms 55:22), and the uplifter of all things (Hebrews 1:3), He is the only certainty in a world of uncertainty that we have. He has promised that He will be with us until the end of the world and that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).
Above all and beyond all, we can live every day of our lives “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).