Quick Links Quick Links

Here’s Some Hope

by David Reagan

A spirit of despair is sweeping our country. It has become apparent the Coronavirus is not going to be resolved quickly. We keep hoping for positive news that the worst is behind us or that a miraculous cure has been discovered so we can return to normal. But there has not been much good news in the last month. The entire country is in a funk.

     It is disappointing that the current crisis has not healed America’s political divide. This should be a time for the nation to rally together, but Trump-supporters and Trump-haters continue to exchange vicious accusations. There is still a complete lack of civility, with one side blaming the other for all our problems. Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Right now, America seems helplessly divided, and people are wondering, “Is there any hope?”

     It has been said, “You can live for a month without food. You can live for three days without water. You can live for five minutes without air. But you can’t live a second without hope.” That is why the Bible says the three most important virtues are “faith, HOPE, and love” (1 Cor. 13:13).  

     The Apostle Peter wrote to new believers who were really discouraged. Some had lost their jobs, been uprooted from their homes, separated from their families, and were scattered over the countryside because they believed in Christ. Their sense of security had been totally disrupted and they didn’t understand why.

     Simon Peter reminded them that even though they were hurting, they had a realistic hope that could sustain them through it all. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

     Notice the phrase “living hope.” Most of the world’s hopes are dying, dead-end hopes. But the Christian hope abides, based on the historical fact that Jesus Christ conquered the grave. He is our Everlasting Hope.

Students of human behavior point out the importance of both short-term and long-term hopes.  Short-term hopes energize us for today. It has been said everyone needs someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Everyone needs something to look forward to in the near future. That is the value of a hobby. It may be golfing, fishing, running, gardening, woodworking, painting, following a favorite team — something you enjoy doing apart from your normal routine. The expectation of something exciting to do tomorrow keeps us energized for today.

     Here is the problem. Many of us have had our short-term hopes abruptly stripped from us. No sports, no eating out on Friday night, no watching the grandkids in school activities, no spring break at the beach…not even a church service on Sunday! There is not much to look forward to, and we’re bored! That is discouraging!  

     Long-term hopes give us the incentive to persevere.  We may have a goal of getting our doctorate, celebrating our 50th anniversary, or retiring debt-free. Those long-term hopes motivate us to keep working, keep plodding along day by day.

     But to be honest, those long-term hopes are often unfulfilling, dead-end hopes. We’ve all seen people retire and quickly go back to work because they feel empty and worthless. We’ve witnessed celebrities in their sixties who seemingly have achieved a life of utopia commit suicide. Obviously, the achievement of long-term hopes didn’t satisfy them. King Solomon, one of the world’s all-time high-achievers, experience it all and concluded it was meaningless.

     That is why it is essential for us to have an eternal hope that gives us the ultimate purpose. The Bible says, “We have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead into an inheritance that can never perish spoil or fade kept in heaven for you.”

Let’s say you are on a cruise ship in the Caribbean that is overtaken by terrorists. The hijackers announce, “We’re going to blow this ship up in two days, but in the meantime, go ahead and relax and have fun.” You probably wouldn’t enjoy yourself much. To have an enjoyable cruise, you need the assurance of anchoring one day in a safe harbor. The Bible assures us, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19).  

     Eternal hopes actually enhance short-term and long-term hopes because those goals are kept in perspective. We genuinely appreciate material things more when they are regarded as temporary blessings from God and not our primary source of hope. Likewise, we can enjoy sports more, even if our favorite team loses or games are canceled because we realize it’s not the end of the world…sports are a temporary diversion.

     What do we often say to fans who are so obsessed with sports they go into a week-long funk when their team loses? We say, “Get a life!” We’re saying, “Get a living hope!” David asked, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior, and my God” (Psalm 43:5).  David is saying, “Get a living hope! Remember what is ultimately important.”

     While the present malaise in America is understandable, we’d be wise to make adjustments and develop some new short-term hopes that honor God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I’ve learned to be content in every situation” (Philippians 4:11).  Learn to be content. Refuse to sit like a zombie in front of the television or the computer screen. Don’t spend hours texting your friends about how anxious and miserable you are.  

     Write down some things you want to accomplish or some activities you look forward to in the next week and plan ways to enhance those events. Use some of your time to study Scripture to reinforce where your ultimate hope lies. Have a couple of friends over to your house and play a challenging game. Face time with your kids and have some provocative questions ready. Be creative, and those renewed short-term hopes will provide a break in the routine and give you something in which to look forward.

     Last Sunday, my wife and I joined a few neighbors and watched an online church service together. I’ll grant you it is not as good as going to church and seeing all our friends. It wasn’t as exciting as March Madness. But it was enjoyable and gave us something to look forward to on the weekend. And I guarantee you it beats a daily pity-party. Learn to be content with less dramatic hopes, and you’ll discover your spirits will be lifted.

 And, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).  

             Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

www.bobrussell.org

 




Leave a Reply

If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8