(This column originally appeared in LNP | LancasterOnline on Oct. 3, 2021)
There is an ever-increasing sense of hopelessness among many Americans today. Terrorists, floods, fires, hurricanes and storms take lives and cause billions of dollars of damage. Business leaders do not tell the truth and political leaders put their own interests ahead of the people they were elected to represent. Perhaps most distressingly, when spiritual leaders contradict the Bible, I find myself asking, “Where is our hope?” People are feeling so small while our problems, disasters and enemies seem so large.
We live in troubling times. We can fret and fume over the chaos, take a stand here or there, hit the “like” button of someone else’s bandwagon, or we can go to God’s Word and gain his transcendent perspective. Eternity is glorious, beyond all comparison with our present. That is how Paul could write, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Even though our circumstances may seem hopeless, all-encompassing and never-ending, they can cause our gaze to seek something greater, the hope of our future.
It is this one living hope that keeps us pressing forward. Paul states that God has made known to us “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). Did you see that? There is a plan. It is right on schedule. God never says, “Whoops — I didn’t see that one coming!” God alone will bring true unity to all things and people in Christ.
The content of our hope is also described in Galatians 5:5 where Paul says we await the “hope of righteousness.” Colossians 1:27 references our “hope of glory.” 1 Timothy 1:1 says Jesus Christ is our hope. In Titus 1:2, Paul tells us that God has given us “hope of eternal life.” All these expressions, in various ways, refer to the same thing — the eternal, resurrected existence we will enjoy in the new heaven and Earth, face to face before our holy God as beings who cannot sin, because of the redemption our Savior has purchased for us.
That hope is not simply wishful thinking, but a firm conviction that the future promises of God will be fulfilled. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul — a secure, future-oriented hope. We can confidently stake our lives on this conviction because our hope is objectively based on the Lord Jesus Christ and what he has ensured for us through his life, death, and resurrection.
I would like to take you back to a scene in the Upper Room (traditionally held to be the site of the Last Supper) described for us in John 14. Jesus had just said some astonishing things to his disciples. He had spoken of his Father’s house and mansions and going away where the disciples would not be able to follow. These mystical statements were too much for Thomas, who asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). This question echoes through the centuries. This pivotal question every person must ask finds in its response one of the most radiant jewels of the Bible: Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
And so we keep our eyes focused on our hope in Christ Jesus. As we daily read the Bible, meditate, reflect and pray, and are faithful in corporate worship and fellowship with other believers, we are reminded of God’s past faithfulness and steadfast love manifested specifically in Christ. Increasingly, as we learn to know God’s character, we will trust, obey and be filled with hope. God has always been with us, God is with us now and God will be with us always. He is in full control and his promises are sure. Now that’s something to be hopeful about!
Peter W. Teague is president emeritus of Lancaster Bible College.