The word hope strikes a chord deep in people’s hearts. We all thirst for it. The expectation of good is a universal need.
For people without a biblical worldview hope is tenuously tied to the frailty of the world and to promises that collapse under pressure. The recent years have certainly made that crystal clear.
However, people with a biblical worldview have another kind of hope. Their hope is tied to the promises of God. In fact, hope is produced by faith in God and his lavish promises. Furthermore, we read in 1Thessalonians 1:3 that such hope inspires endurance, something we all need on this long journey.
The first awakening of hope appears immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve. God makes his first grand promise: He will send someone to crush the head of Satan. What an extraordinary beginning to the journey of hope! The most devastating of all catastrophes is given a sure solution.
Christ has come and crushed the serpent’s head. He is our help in this life and the guarantee of the next life where there will be no Adversary and no adversity.
In a world of so much social chaos, moral debris, and complexities that have no solutions, people may lose hope, even become cynical about the idea of hope. But we must not lose sight of what God has promised lest our hope also begins to fade.
Christian hope transcends this world and does not depend on it.
When Paul the apostle was released from a brutal Roman prison, he wrote to Timothy and his first words were about Christ Jesus, our hope. (1 Timothy 1:1) That is significant.
If a man ever knew troubles, it was Paul. If a man ever journeyed in hope, it was Paul. Through many trials and imprisonment, hope in Christ kept him clear minded and able to remain on mission.
Paul’s hope was shot through with God’s promises. Nothing deterred him—no social or religious chaos, no injustice, no suffering, no beating, no cultural stronghold, no political opposition. His hope was tied to God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or think.
We all need a similar hope, one that is soaked through with the Word of God. In this challenging world, it is vitally important that we take time to listen to the voice of God in the sacred pages, and receive the infallible, inspired Word deep into our hearts.
Christian hope is not a nervous agitation filled with speculations. Our hope is bright and true in a world of fading hopes, firmly tied to the promises that God himself has made to the people that he created. These promises are entirely fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ resurrected. No other hope is established on such a sure foundation.
A worldview with Christ the hope at the centre opens our eyes to a long view of things, like the eagle soaring up into the sky, able to see the grand scope of the landscape. That’s what a biblical worldview does—it allows us to see the bigger picture of the here and now while never losing sight of the glorious world to come. It frees us to live our day to day lives with calm assurance and to serve God’s mission with joy and hope.
What about hope for our personal and often painful circumstances? Dr. J. I. Packer, author of the book, Knowing God, said something that has been profoundly encouraging to me in the valleys of my own journey: “When we pray, we must believe that God will act”.
Christian prayer is not a nervous agitation filled with speculations any more than Christian hope would be. Rather it expresses confidence in God.
We all have big concerns to bring to the Lord in prayer — strained or broken relationships, breakdown in family units, illness, lost loved ones, the desperate need for clarity on matters we can’t seem to resolve…the list could go on and on. We need to bring all these to the Lord and not neglect prayer.
However, it may be helpful to remind ourselves that many answers to our petitions unfold over time because they require a deeper work of God in people’s hearts, our own included.
E. M. Bounds, who wrote on prayer in the late 19th century, points out that what appears as delayed answer to prayer may be God preparing everything in us and in others to receive the answer.
So many answers to prayer require a deep change in the heart and mind, and that can take time. Perhaps this is why the Bible associates prayer with perseverance, patience and persistence. But let’s not forget one of the brightest words connected to prayer in Scripture—PROMISE.
Even when we don’t see the specific outcome we prayed for, we must believe that God acts in answer to prayer, often in ways that we don’t immediately recognize. So, we place our needs before him and trust him to act for the best good. His is faithful and we can count on him.
We are transients in this transitory world. One day it will all pass away. But those whose faith is in Christ will be resurrected to a new life in a real place where there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more wars. There is no greater hope.