Its been a rough ride since this year began with the stock markets sliding, the price of crude oil moving south and a large number of lay offs in both the oil sector and banking. This, compounded by the state of affairs in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, the constant squabble between nations as they strive for supremacy, the North Korean issue and the depths of evil in men’s hearts leaves one with a dark foreboding of what the future has in store for the world.
Even so, I am reminded of the passage in Isaiah 6 where, despite the events that were taking place on earth, the seraphim proclaimed that the whole earth was filled with God’s glory. I guess it is a matter of perspective and of hope.
As I was seeking God in December last year, the Lord impressed this one word in my spirit – “Hope”. I then began to read the Scriptures and compiled a study on hope, which I would like to share with you.
Hope is the earnest expectation of good; it is the confidence that good will come to pass; an optimistic view of the future. As a Christian, we have several reasons for hope; in fact, we are to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3:15).
The Bible says in Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Our God is the God of hope. He expects us to abound with hope even in the darkest of situations – in the midst of sickness, hope for healing and health; in the midst of a loss of job, hope for a better job; in the midst of a marital conflict, hope for healing and restoration; in the midst of a financial crisis, hope for prosperity; in the midst of an impossible situation, hope for a miracle; in the midst of barrenness, hope for children; in the midst of bondage, hope for deliverance and freedom. He will empower us by the Holy Spirit that we may not only have hope, but overflow with hope. Our hope will not disappoint us; it will come to fruition (Rom 5:5). Hope is the anchor of the soul, is both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19), and brings rest (Ps 16:9). It enables us to experience the glorious presence of the Lord (Heb 6:19).
As we examine this topic, we must be cautious that all our hope is not solely set on the things of this life. The Word says in 1 Cor 15:19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” We understand from this that our hope in Christ will bear fruit both with regard to life in this world and life in the age to come. It is only when we lose sight of the life to come and solely focus on the things of this life that we become pitiable.
What then do we hope for ? Both for this life on earth and the life to come.
- For this life on earth – An excellent example is found in the life of Abraham in Romans 4. Verse 18 says “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’.” Abraham placed his hope in God’s promise that he would have a child through Sarah. He had every reason to be filled with despair especially since he was about 100 years old and Sarah was 90 and barren. Yet, he chose to place his hope in God’s promise to him. The situation required a miracle; Abraham could choose to either have hope or to despair. He chose to hope, believing that God would fulfill his promise. He was rewarded with a miraculous intervention and Isaac was born through Sarah.
What is your situation? Is it sickness, a loss of job, a crisis in your marriage, insubordinate children, financial problems, barrenness, prison, persecution, trials ? Does the future seem bleak and threaten doom? Place your hope in God. David did the same. Read Psalm 42 and 43. In the midst of oppression by the enemy and deep distress, David spoke to his own soul saying in verse 5 and 11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Can you pause and speak to your soul in like manner, right now?
- For the life to come – Titus 3:7 speaks of the hope of eternal life. Our hope in God extends beyond this life to the life which is to come after death. The Word speaks in 2 Corinthians that when we are absent from this world, we will be present with the Lord. Paul speaks in Philippians of departing to be with Christ. There is a life for us after this life on earth – a life spent in the presence of God for eternity. Faith in Jesus Christ gives us this wonderful hope of spending eternity in God’s marvellous presence.
In Romans 8:23-25, Paul speaks of eagerly waiting with perseverance in hope for the redemption of the body. Our bodies will one day be changed, when Jesus returns, and we will obtain glorious bodies.
1 Peter 1:3,4 speaks of God placing within us the hope of an inheritance in heaven, with Him keeping us by his power while on earth so that we can inherit all things with Christ. In 1:13, he speaks of the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus is revealed from heaven at his coming – a grace that will transform us instantly to be like Jesus.
We also have hope that Jesus will return for His church, that He will destroy the Anti Christ and bring in a new heavens and a new earth, that we will reign with Christ.
Look beyond this life; your life to come is secure and assured because you are in Christ.
What is the basis for the Christian’s hope?
- Jeremiah 29:11 shows us that we have a God who thinks about us constantly, to do us good so that we may have hope and a future.
- Jeremiah 17:7 speaks blessing upon the man whose hope is the Lord. It is not just placing our hope in God, but our hope is God himself -in who He is.
- Hebrews 6:17-19 God’s word and promises are sufficient basis for hope.
- Romans 15:4 – “we through the patience and comfort of Scriptures might have hope.”
- Romans 4:17,18 – God’s promise to Abraham was the basis for his hope despite having every reason to despair.
- Colossians 1:27 – Christ in us is the hope of glory. Because Christ dwells in us, we can expect to experience and see His glory being revealed in our lives and in our situations. You can expect God Himself to show up in His glory, just as he did in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace.
- Christ’s life, death and resurrection – God the Father was with Jesus at every moment of his life on earth, He was with him in death in that He did not allow Jesus’ body to see corruption, He was with Jesus as He raised him from the dead and enabled him to ascend to heaven. Jesus’ life gives us a reason for hope. God will not abandon us but be with us every step of the way.
We find the Scriptures speaking of hope in our spirits – when the Holy Spirit fills us (Rom 15:13); hope in our souls – just as David spoke to his soul to hope in God (Psalm 42:11) and hope for our bodies – David says in Psalm 16:9,10 “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope, For you will not leave my soul in Sheol nor will you allow your Holy one to see corruption.”
Therefore, saint of God, don’t give up.
Abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope changes the atmosphere around you, it fills the atmosphere with expectation so that all who come in contact with you will be impacted and will want to know the reason for the hope that you have. Your best life may well be ahead of you.
God be with you.