Lately, I’ve been mulling over the puzzling question of what real hope looks like, in a world as messed up as ours is.
I’ve been thinking, praying, talking, and tweeting about it, and I’ve been doing my best to grasp the essence of what it truly is…and what it can look like individually in our lives.
Hope is beautiful, because it is the promise of faith. Not blind faith, but real, grounded, and radical faith in a world of chaos; confusion; hopelessness.
Hope is a form of anticipation, of something guaranteed, not just wished for, and I’ve been grappling with this too, recently.
Where is hope when we can’t see straight? Where is hope in depression, in heartache, in desperation?
Where is hope when the money is tight, when pain is ever-present, when the future seems miserably bleak?
Where is hope in hospitals, in nursing homes, at gravesides?
Where is hope in any of it? Where is hope at all?
What are we even hoping for?
I wish I could lie and say that it all gets better. It may, or it may not. But God is not any less good when He chooses not to give us everything we think we need on this earth. Our ultimate need is a spiritual one, one He took care of on the cross.
The Bible has much to say about hope, about faith and trust. About waiting.
Two summers ago, I wrote a post about how in the Scripture, waiting is linked with strength. When I first started reading verses that talked about this, I was simply mind-blown.
Why is it, that when I am stuck in the middle of waiting, God promises strength, and courage, and mercy? Because His work with me is not finished yet.
My life is about so much more than me. As is yours. We are a part of something so much greater than any of us could construct on our own – we have been given eternal life, a life that starts right now and is made possible by faith on Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.
And so our hope is an eternal one.
It’s a hard thing to grasp, I know. Personally, I’d really like to be able to say that hope means I’ll have a generally good life, things will tend to go my way, and it’ll all be swell, because I’m a Christian.
But it doesn’t work that way.
Christians still eventually die, just like everyone else. We’re not immune to pain, or exempt from the problems of this world in any way.
“And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”
However, we have a hope that stretches on into eternity – the hope in the knowledge that we are blood-bought children of God – that in Heaven, promised to us, we will be given new and glorious bodies, that we will see our Creator and Savior face to face, that we will be freed of all pain and suffering and sorrow.
I know how easy it is to get discouraged here on this earth. I know what it feels like to painfully wait, to feel timid and weak and exhausted with no idea how a season of life is going to turn out.
It’s so, so hard.
But just because God may not choose to answer every one of our prayers with the exact response that we think we want does not mean that He does not care about our lives here and now. He does.
He will supply all of our needs, says Philippians 4:19.
He will work all things together for our ultimate good, declares Romans 8:28.
We are freely given peace because Christ has overcome the world, we know from John 16:33.
The Holy Spirit helps us our weakness, we’re promised in Romans 8:26.
I wrote last Saturday about how the goodness that God promises us isn’t always what we expect.
“Good is often mistaken for easy, straightforward, quietly eventless. That’s not it. Good can be filled with pain, with both ups and downs, joy and sorrow alike.”
Our hope is an eternal one, and a good one, even though our lives are often rough, and difficult, and sometimes even excruciating.
Hope reaches past our discomfort and provides an anchor for us to place our faith in, even when our feelings do not agree. Hope says that we are not alone in our suffering – look at the ultimate depiction of suffering, Christ dying for us – the very sacrifice that provided us hope in the first place.
A lot of concepts beautifully intertwine here – how we have hope because of faith, and faith in of the cross of Christ, because of God’s unfailing promise of redemption to us.
It’s a stunning connection, truly, how the life we live now may be filled with pain, and yet we still can be filled with hope, the hope that provides us overwhelming joy in anything we face.
And it’s an odd concept to grasp, too, because it’s a completely countercultural way of thinking – the way that says pain is alright because in it, we are given strength, and one day soon, we will be freed from it.
Go live in hope today, friend. Trust the God who sees the universe, and yet pays attention to you.
Trust the God who cradles the stars, and yet holds your heart.
Trust the God who sees the beginning from the end of time, and yet cares about your hurts right here in this moment.
Trust the God who promises eternal life to YOU, who died for YOU, who sees your heart and yet loves YOU.
There is hope, friend. Grasp onto it.