It is easy to read the headlines and feel the hope drain right from your heart. It takes no effort to stumble across places of doubt and despair in the news or on social media. But hope? Sometimes we have to hunt for it. Sometimes we have to dig so deep that it leaves the fingers of our souls raw - especially during a (seemingly endless) worldwide pandemic, an economic crisis, a national election, bouts of isolation, raging issues of racism, riots, recalling our country’s history, and an overall uncertain future.
Or maybe these things are just hovering in your peripheral, because you're too busy dealing with cancer or a kid who is struggling with anxiety and depression.
Feeling hopeless yet? But there is still good news. Very good news.
There is hope higher than the headlines. There is hope higher than your worst heartache.
This is not the kind of hope that detaches from reality or wishes to the wind that things go well. This hope does not stem from natural optimism or temperament. It is rooted to the supernatural. This is a certain hope that Christians can have because of the resurrection. This hope comes when we attach ourselves to the Christ, when we abide in Jesus the King.
Biblical hope is vastly different than worldly hope.
Worldly hope reckons with uncertain things. We hope there will be a vaccine soon. We hope the kids will go back to school in the fall. We hope the economy will pick up. Worldly hope longs for that which it cannot control. Worldly hope nearly always disappoints.
Biblical hope, in contrast, is a strong and confident expectation of the future, not based on expert predictions but on the completed work of Christ.
“This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
The gospel, the good news victory message of Jesus Christ, is the foundation of our hope. It gives us more than we could ever deserve. It never disappoints. Even in a world marked by defeat, gospel people can cling to victory. All we need has already been supplied. We can hope in the gospel as real and certain because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him” (Ephesians 1:14).
The Holy Spirit is the conduit of our hope, working in us and through us - teaching us, guiding us, convicting and comforting us, and connecting us to God and one another. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate who helps us follow Jesus (John 14:26). We can see the fruits of the Spirit in our own lives and the lives of others, evidence of the transformation taking place within us (Galatians 5:22-23).
The victory of the gospel and the accessibility of the Holy Spirit should give us great hope!
“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces character, and proven character produces hope” (Romans 5:2-4).
Did you notice the journey leading to hope began with affliction? Affliction can actually be an ally when it pushes us to more deeply hope and abide in Him. When the wind of worry threatens to whip us into withdrawal and the waves of weariness try to knock us down, the anchor of the gospel will keep us steady.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
We can have unshakeable hope because we have an unshakeable gospel.
The current events of our day, while challenging and, in some cases, horrific, do not change the power of the gospel. We are still saved by grace through faith in Jesus as the Savior of the world (Ephesians 2:8-9). The saving message of Christ can still spread amidst a virus that is keeping us from our church buildings (Acts 8:4). God can still work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, even for the patient alone in his or her hospital room (Romans 8:28). What is intended for evil, in our politics and platforms, God can use for good (Genesis 50:20).
No circumstance can change the saving and sanctifying truth of the gospel. So we can be a people of a higher hope. Higher than the headlines. Higher than even our own heartache. We can hope in our future, because it has been secured by Christ.
“Hope is the pillar of the faith that God gives His people so they can envision change. We believe in a hopeful future because we believe it has been secured by the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Pastor Eric Mason in his book Woke Church.
We can hope in the Person, power and perspective of God because of the gospel and Spirit of Jesus Christ. This heavenly hope will never disappoint us. So let us “rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
And let this be your prayer in these days of despair, so that you can access and impart the higher hope of heaven: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
This is the first article of a series titled "A Call to Hope". Read next week’s article for hope in God’s living Word, the Bible.