While discussing the work of the church over lunch the other day with a retired Preacher friend, our conversation turned as it often does to friends in other places. We started talking about two dear sisters who we both love deeply who have had Alzheimer’s disease, one recently lost her life and another is currently struggling with this horrible disease. My friend made the comment that just about everybody he knows who has been affected by Alzheimer’s is an individual who is highly organized. We both sort of smiled and agreed that if that is the case neither of us has anything to worry about. I told him that his comment gave me a lot of hope. As I was driving away that day I began to think about hope.
In our finite minds it is difficult for us to understand the real meaning of hope. We use hope every day in our vocabulary. We use hope to represent something we want to happen, but something of which we are really uncertain. For example, there are many of us who live in the DFW area, who hope the Cowboys can win a playoff game this year. We don’t feel very confident in this, but we hope it will happen! A child may say, “I hope I get a new doll or a new game for Christmas.” We may hope for a new job, or a new house, or a new car. Hope to us is represented by strong desire, but not much more.
The Biblical idea of hope is much different. In the Bible, hope represents something more substantive than desire. Hope in the Bible is accompanied more with assurance. The Apostle Paul gives us the best Biblical definition of hope in Romans 8:24-35, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? If we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” This passage gives us something that we believe in, not something about which we are uncertain. Paul would later say that we should rejoice in this hope (Romans 12:12). It is through “the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures,” that we gain this hope (Romans 15:4). There is one hope in which we have been called as Christians (Ephesians 4:4). The writer of Hebrews reminds us that our hope is both “sure and steadfast,” as well as the fact that it serves as an “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
WE HOPE IN THE GOSPEL
We live in a world that is hopelessly lost. However, there is Good News. Jesus came into the world to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). Our hope is not in ourselves, our own ingenuity, our own educational acumen, our own planning, our hope is in the Gospel. The Apostle Paul spoke of the hope of the Gospel that the early Christians had heard, and reminded all of us that this is our “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:23, 27). Once we have obeyed this Gospel we have put on the “hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). When we are born again we have a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
We must be willing to help others learn of this great hope. It is true that Christianity can be characterized as one beggar helping another beggar find bread. The words of Paul in 1 Timothy 4:10 paint a clear picture of our work, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” When we share this hope with others they become “our hope...in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming” (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
WE HOPE IN THE COMING OF JESUS
In Acts 1 we read of Jesus going back to heaven to be with the Father. When Christ ascended two men in white clothing appeared and said to the disciples who were gazing intently into the sky, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus is coming back in the clouds, just as He ascended in the clouds so that He might take us to live with Him eternally (John 14:1-3). In Philippians 3:20-21 Paul stated that we eagerly await the coming of the Savior. Since the earliest days of Christianity all Christians are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13). This is the hope that will help us live pure lives (1 John 3:3).
WE HOPE IN OUR ETERNAL SALVATION
When the writer of the book of Hebrews states that we have this hope as an anchor of the soul he is referring to our entrance into our eternal home. It is this hope that sustains the people of God. It is this hope that gives us reason to live faithfully for Him. It is this hope that encourages us to want to share the hope of the Gospel with others. This is the hope of eternal life, “which God, who cannot lie promised long ages ago” (Titus 1:2). Those who are justified have been made heirs of this hope (Titus 3:7). This hope is certain. It is not something we have to be unsure about, we can have the “full assurance of hope” (Hebrews 6:11). This hope has been reserved for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5).
Thank You dear Father, for giving us the hope that is an anchor for our souls! Please help us to place our hope in You.