Pastor Marc Likins
What is hope? A confident expectation that good is around the corner, a trust and belief that better days are ahead.
This is why 1 Corinthians 9:10 says when we plow a field — we do it with hope. We have a confident expectation that the work of plowing will pay off one day in the form of a harvest. Romans 8:24 says it more bluntly — “Hope that is seen is not hope.” Meaning, hope is future oriented.
2 Thessalonians 2 says that our hope is a gift from Jesus. Verses 16-17 say: Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. Jesus in His grace has given us not just any old hope, but a good hope — an excellent and distinguished hope.
This is crucial because we are shaped by our belief of what the future holds. If you really believe that your company’s future is doomed, you will look for another job. If you really believe you are going on vacation, you will begin to pack and prepare. If you really believe you can lay up treasure in heaven, you will be generous. If hope is so crucial, you can imagine that when you get an upgraded hope, a good hope, an excellent or distinguished hope — it is life changing.
The world needs hopeful hearts and homes, especially in times of despair and confusion. But, how do we become more hopeful? How do we begin to apply this excellent hope?
1. Look Way Up
Lamentations, though it is dark and despairing at times, includes an interesting moment about hope.
Chapter 3, verses 21-24, say: 21. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Though the speaker is desolate, despairing, and filled with bitterness, he will not let himself be consumed by what he is feeling. He stops and forces himself to remember how good God has been to him and how good God will be.
Often, our problem is not that we do not hope, but that we misdirect our hope to the wrong things or people. Our spouse, our kids, our political leaders do not offer the same promises and anchor for our souls because they can disappoint us. But, we can know that good is coming because of God.
1 Peter 1:21: Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
If you place your mind on hope only when you feel like it, you will never be a hopeful person. You must continually put the work in to remember to hope. Show up to the gym of God’s word, pick up the weight of hope, and begin to lift it.
2. Look Way Back
Romans 15:4: For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The Bible, full of examples of saints in the past, brings hope. Hebrews chapter eleven’s entire message is that faith is the substance of things we hope for, like Abraham who left home by faith, Enoch who walked with God by faith, Noah who built a boat by faith. All of them hoped that something good was around the corner that God had promised.
Often when we despair, we are tempted to say that God gave up on us. Instead, we need to look back and see his love and goodness displayed throughout the Bible, and based on his promises, we can look forward and see his love and goodness in the future, even if we don’t see it now.
3. Look Way Ahead
We would be miserable if all our hope was wrapped up in this life alone. We hope forward, in the direction of eternity. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. We hope toward Jesus’ return that will happen one day. Titus 2:13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
We hope toward our home in heaven and what is laid up for us there. Colossians 1:5: For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.
Our ultimate hope is in the return of Jesus and our eternity with him in heaven — where all wrongs will be made right, all that is broken will be restored, righteousness and peace will prevail, and we will get to see God in all his glory.
Remember to be more mindful of the hope we have in Jesus, and when things seem dark, to look way up, way back, and way ahead.