by Thomas Yerman
Hope seems to be in short supply these days. Media reports are often bleak and pessimistic, despite occasional attempts to end with a “feel good” story.
This year’s lead up to Easter has been unlike any in recent memory. But what an opportunity for us to offer the world some life-giving hope!
Hope means to expect—even anticipate—certain things to happen. Hope helps us avoid worry or, at the least, manage it. Without hope, worry can distort the way we see things, the way we feel. Worry can rule over us, dictating what we do. Worry can manipulate our feelings, feeding fear and even despair.
Worry strangles the strength of hope. Seven hundred years ago, the Old English word, wyrgan, which evolved to become our word, “worry,” literally meant “to slay, kill or injure by biting and shaking the throat”—as in an antiquated phrase about a dog “worrying” an old shoe.
That’s what worry does to hope!
Spring and nature remind us that hope can be a common experience, essential to life. This “common hope,” however, is more of a wishful expectation that something you want will come. There are benefits in having that kind of hope, but there are no guarantees. In fact, common hope could set you up for disappointment when your expectations fail to materialize.
“Essential hope” on the other hand, is quite different from common hope. Essential hope is, well, absolutely essential to life.
Where do we find that essential hope? How can we offer essential hope to the world? That kind of hope is based on God’s presence and promise, found specifically in Jesus Christ and salvation that comes through him. That’s why I like to define HOPE as: Heavenly Optimism Promoting Eternal-life.
Essential hope is an expression of a confident expectation we find in a three-way relationship between the Creator, his Creation (us), and his Word. Connect these three properly, and our feelings and desires will align with God’s. It’s a hope that points to our future life in eternity: “…we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved…” (Rom. 8:23-24)
In this season especially we remember the source of our hope. Through Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter celebrations, believers are revived in the hope God has given through the resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.
If we are truly building our lives on the redemptive work of Christ, we should all be optimists, filled with hope. We know whatever happens to us here on earth is temporary. Jesus promised us that after life with all its hardships has ended, we will be in a place where pain, suffering, and death are no more. Jesus came to earth to take our sufferings upon himself so we could one day be free from every form of suffering forever.
The reality of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and his promises throw open the gates of heaven that give us the optimism we need for promoting eternal life in and through our lives today.
When we stray from living out our redemption as God intended, we can lose our hope. When people feel no hope, they begin to fear. According to Cliff Wilt, FEAR is “Forgetting Everything About Redemption.”
Hope is dependent upon our redemption—having our sins forgiven. Because without redemption a person has good reason to fear.
So hold on to your faith and your hope in Christ! It gives us the strength to make earthly suffering bearable. It gives us the confidence to trust in God’s sovereign plan, looking forward to the day of Christ’s return when our bodies will be resurrected and all creation will be redeemed.
It’s good to cut pollution and clean up our planet, but it’s even better to remove sin and redeem our lives. Jesus has the authority and power to restore all things, perfectly. Both “a new heaven and a new earth” will come in God’s timing.
In the end of the age, the earth will be a place where God makes his dwelling among his people as he originally intended in the garden of Eden. Everything happening between now and then is moving us toward that glorious time.
God is fulfilling his sovereign plan! We trust in him as we anticipate heaven and Christ’s bodily return. Hope might not remove today’s suffering, but it can help us put pain in perspective. The time is coming when we will participate in the glory of Christ, but for now we are being prepared for eternal life. We have a purpose to accomplish while we are here and a hope to sustain us until we get there.
Our hope enables us to rejoice and celebrate even in the midst of suffering.
“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:1-2).
Jesus gives us the hope we need so we know something good is going to happen.
Let “Heavens Optimism Promote Eternal-life” in and through you today! God is building his Church, and he still has his arms wrapped around the world. Believers in Christ have an essential hope and calling. Jesus promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age when the permanent will overtake the temporary. Heaven is coming, can you feel it?
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with the seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Thomas Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.