Faith That Gives You Hope

Along with faith and love, hope is an abiding and awesome benefit of the Christian life (1 Corinithans 13:13).

But sometimes it's hard to have hope in this life.

We've been alone for too long. Hurt for too long. Paying the cost for too long, we made a mistake that we regret and still suffer from. We expect certain things to improve, we hope things change, but it's been so long and nothing really changes.

Occasionally a wind of hope comes our way. In this country, every four years half the nation renews it's hope. Or we discover a self-help principle, or a new diet comes out, or a political movement, or new love interest takes hold that renews our hope but such hopes never last.

And now just the state of the world, having hit the boiling point over racial justice, the hysteria over the election, on top of everything else this corona-virus and ensuing lockdown has dragged on us  with no sign of things returning to normal anytime soon.

So how are you holding up? When you peruse the headlines or scroll social media, does it scare you, affect your breathing? Does it seem hopeless now?

But that's how the headlines read. And of course, for the world runs on the assumption that is there is no God. That's the ruling thought. So there's no help, no direction, no certainty, no eternal future. Sounds hopeless. YOLO! So this is it, and whatever threatens personal happiness—a global pandemic, global warming, presidential race—each poses an existential threat because "this is all we have."

If we are not spiritually alert to allow Jesus Christ to nullify these godless assumptions and recalibrate us to the truth, we can fall into this way of thinking and be as frightened or anxious or hopeless as anyone else.

But faith in our Lord Jesus Christ gives you hope no matter what threatens the world.

Jesus brought hope wherever He went. When Jesus came to town the blind and lame suddenly had hope, parents of demon-possessed kids had hope, broken and hopeless sinners now had hope.

When Jesus was on the cross, He told a hopeless and dying man, "Today you will be with Me in paradise." Even though Satan and political leaders plotted His death Jesus used this to pay our ransom, break sin's curse, defeat death, then He utterly stunned the powers that be by walking out of that tomb alive.

Peter wrote his first letter to a church that was persecuted and suffering,

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who [presently] reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father… May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Notice the first thing he does is acknowledge life isn't great right now. You're suffering. You're aliens in a foreign world. You've been chased out of your town, scattered from your home. But you are chosen of God. This is who you are.

This is the new reality from which to rightly view everything that happens.

God knows how hard it is to live in exile, in a pandemic, in a lonely apartment, in a lonely marriage. No matter what happens around us, God wants to give to us His favor, His grace and His peace in the fullest way.

Our biggest hope isn't that things get back to normal; these Christians weren't going back home. Our hope is to trust and walk with Jesus in such a way that we experience His grace and peace to the fullest measure. But Peter goes on,

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope [to a certain, never ending hope] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable [nobody can spoil it] and undefiled [nobody can ruin it] and will not fade away, [it's vibrant, eternal and awesome, and it's] reserved in heaven for you, [who trust in Jesus Christ and the merits of His death and resurrection and] 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… 7 … at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

A new vaccine doesn't offer this hope. Nor a new president, a new boyfriend, a new job. Our hope only depends on Jesus Christ rising from the dead. And He did!

Our hope is an eternal hope that was given clarity when He rose from the dead and it was given to us when we first believed and were born again.

We have God's Spirit in us. God's power. God's love. But our greatest hope is in God's promise that all things will be brought under Jesus, given to Jesus, and that you and I will share in His future inheritance. Yes, a glorified body, and eternal life with Christ, doing great things, intimately close with God who'll share with us all that He has in an exceedingly joyful, wonderful way.   

Our greatest hope is in God's promise that all things will be brought under Jesus, given to Jesus, and that you and I will share in His future inheritance.

This is why the early church had such hope and was so excited for the future. And not just way off in the distance but the moment you pass from this life. The apostle Paul wrote,

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

As good as life can be, faith in Jesus gives the believer a great future hope.

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Paul was in prison when he wrote this. He was likely to be sentenced to death. He didn't know what God had planned—would he live or would he die?—yet Paul had incredible hope.

Philippians 1:23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.

This is your future! This hope can sustain you no matter what happens in this life. To be with Jesus in whose presence is the fullness of joy. This is held out for you to trust now, to hope in now.

The author of Hebrews tells us "to take hold of the hope set before you," look as forward to the future as Jesus does.

Not only does your born again spirit go to be with Jesus when you die but one future day Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those believers who've died and He'll raise their bodies from the dead and we will be given new and glorious bodies fashioned like Jesus' body made for eternity. And those who are alive at that time will be taken up to Jesus and your bodies 'll be glorified.  

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

Notice, though their bodies are "asleep" in their coffins, Christians who have passed away are presently "with Him," with Christ. Paul says when Jesus descends "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ [their dead bodies] will rise first.

So their spirits will descend with Jesus and their bodies will rise and reunite in glory.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain [on earth] will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

This is awesome! We'll be with Jesus in glorious new bodies, prepared for a whole new experience,

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Our bodies will be like Jesus' body after He rose from the dead.

Remember, Jesus appeared and vanished at will in His new body. With His Father one moment, with His disciples the next. He entered rooms through locked doors. His friends were so shaken that they thought it was merely His ghost. Yet He had flesh and bone. He ate and laughed with His friends. When Mary saw Him she hugged Him so hard He had to tell her to let go.

No fear of viruses. No limitations. No disabilities. No decline in abilities.

No sin. No shame. No weaknesses. The awesome transformation that will take place when you see Jesus Christ is meant to give you enduring hope,

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

While born again beleivers' spirits are with Him in heaven, there will be seven years of judgment and tribulation on earth. This will end when Jesus returns as King, and we with Him.

No, we will not be sitting around playing harps forever. We will serve Him and rule with Him and bring God's peace and true justice and joy into this sin-broken world.

I think that's awesome. That's hope for us and for the nations, hope for the whole world.

After this period, the earth and the stars will be "destroyed with intense heat" (2 Peter 3:10), and we'll enter a new era, the ultimate and best future forever,

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle [the living quarters, the house] of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

This isn't wishful thinking or avoiding reality—this is reality. Your suffering will pass. This is your future. And this is just a brief snippet of the awesome future that's yours and that's to come,

1 Corinthians 2:9 Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.

Trusting what God promises gives us hope and helps us to love—remember faith and hope and love. Free from anxiety, free from anger or fear, but trusting Jesus for our future we are free to love.

Trusting Jesus for this future reality also helps us to endure tragedies, suffering, injustices, today. Again it helps us to love. It helps us to live with joy.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Yet the devil and world endlessly distract us from this. So, be alert. Don't allow the problems or the pursuits of this world to hijack your hope.

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  

There are so many great passages that speak to this, and for a reason. It's easy to forget this and get caught up in what everyone else focuses on. But here's just one final verse from dozens of others that I hope fills you with hope,

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?