The Hope Before Us
By Dave Breese
There is a quality which must reside in the soul of man in order for a life to be worth living. That quality is not mere contentment, satisfaction, amusement or the like. For the soul to be alive, animated and joyous, the necessary quality is hope.
Hope means that today can be better than yesterday. Hope announces that the concerns of this present time will be succeeded by greater joy and profound rejoicing. Hope causes us to conclude with confidence that there is a glory which lies ahead by comparison to which the best of the days of this present life are prosaic things. Hope causes us to look both ahead and upward. It gives us a reason to face the new morning with bright anticipation and the future with earnest expectation. So important is this quality within life that the Bible goes so far as to say We are saved by hope (Rom. 8:24).
Quite obviously, therefore, in this commodity called hope we have the very thing that lends the quality of joy to the life of man. The converse is also true that when hope expires, when it is abandoned by the needy heart, life itself seems to expire with it. Hopes that are dashed upon the rocks of what seems to be reality leave but the shattered remains, the broken pieces of yesterdays delights which now have been overwhelmed by todays despair.
We live in a time of eroding hope and advancing despair. As never before the world confesses its concern for the future with a more ominous note, larger expressions of fear than it has voiced before. There is a feeling now abroad that the party is almost over and it is time to pay the piper. The spirit of incipient hopelessness moves across the landscape of these days. For many people, nostalgia is reality because todays problems appear to be insoluble by any known present formula.
Despair, however, is a great sin. It is in fact a greater sin than any of the sins that may have led to it. This because despair is a form of atheism, announcing that there is no God who is sufficient to deliver us from the trap, the cage in which humanity has imprisoned itself.
For the Christian, of course, things are different! We may rejoice in that no such hopelessness is ever to beset the Christian. We note that the Bible says, Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That...we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that inside the veil (Heb. 6:17-19).
Whatever therefore may be his circumstances, the Christian delights at all times in the fact that he possesses a sure and steadfast anchor of all of his hopes. Because of this, the Christian rejoices with joy unspeakable and lives every day of his life possessed of that hope that is a daily encouragement and cause for rejoicing.
How sad that our world has foolishly attempted to anchor its hopes in other things than the Word of God, the reality of heaven and the personal presence of Jesus Christ.
For instance, our generation has certainly placed its hopes in a stable financial structure in this land of ours. That stable financial structure is now shown to be a most rickety, unstable thing indeed. In all of our pseudo solutions, we refuse to admit the fact that our financial problems have come as a result of the indulgence, the covetousness and the shameful excess that lives within the heart of man. Its solution therefore is not more money or clever financial schemes. The only proper course which can be taken to build a firmer foundation under the nation is to extract these attitudes from the hearts of men. This of course will not be done because it calls for an activity nothing short of changing human nature. Therefore, hopes based upon money and its availability will end in despair. Economic determinism is neither a true nor a Christian philosophy.
Others, especially now, anchor their hopes in the unfailing promises of human leaders. Indeed, the air has been filled with the political assurance for the future whereby politicians say, We will take care of everything. Depend upon us and well work it out. Some have even said, It will cost you nothing, but we will only charge those whose incomes are above $200,000 a year. Quite obviously, even from the content of these words, the promises of human leaders are security only for fools and for sychophants. How perceptive, therefore, is the Scripture which says, However we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought (I Cor. 2:6).
Again and again the Bible compares the power of human political leaders with the power of God. The power of the first is zero and the power of God is everything. Nebuchadnezzar said, And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say to Him, What doest thou? (Dan. 4:35). Nebuchadnezzar made this perceptive statement after he was allowed by God to return from rejection and insanity which was caused by his pride.
It is the wise king who will say with the young King Solomon, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like You, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keeps covenant and mercy with Your servants that walk before You with all their heart (I Kings 8:23). There are very few leaders in our time who pray that prayer. One looks almost in vain across the entire world for such godly leadership.
There are many other objects of misplaced confidence which are moving in our society. These false anchors for our hopes include:
These false anchors for our hopes in which people place so much confidence are but wispy nostrums which appear solid for a time but are soon gone with the wind.
To join the world in placing ones hope in these things is to move along the road to despair.
The Christian has, by contrast, an anchor for his soul which will never be a failure or a disappointment. As the Bible says in a thousand ways, Our hope is in the Lord. Concerning all other things the Bible says, For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures forever (I Pet. 1:24,25). Hope that is placed in the Lord is not the same as an empty dream. Rather, it is based on solid truth which the Bible tells us concerning our God who is the object of our non-misplaced confidence. That solid truth includes the fact that
He is eternal. He will therefore always be, forever and ever. There never will be a time in which God disappears and we are on our own once again. We relate to the One who into the ages of the ages will be our eternal Lord.
He is for us. As a consequence, the Bible asks the unanswerable question, Who can be against us? Nothing that God is for will ever fail and nothing that He is against will ever succeed.
He loves us. Yes, He loves us with a love from which we will never be separated (Rom. 8:35). Our God loves us with an everlasting love that will be unabated by anything in time or anything in eternity.
His promises will never fail. In fact, the Bible calls them exceeding great and precious promises (II Pet. 1:4). God is not a politician running for office who promises but cannot perform. The fulfillment of the promises of God is as sure as the stars in the heavens and more sure than the sun which shines upon us.
Let us finally remember that the hope that is set before us will be vindicated forever in the day when we stand in the presence of Christ in His glory. The circumstances of our fleeting lives in this world may change a thousand times. The promise that we shall be with Him in glory has never changed from the day it was made. This is because that promise is based on the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on Calvarys cross in order to make us His sons. To all of His sons, a sure future is promised and secure. Indeed, to His sons He offers the opportunity of reigning with Him in glory.
Despite every alternation of the things of time, let us never doubt that our hopes are anchored forever in the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The soul of the Christian therefore should stand stately and unperturbed even in times like these. We are the object of His loving care in time and for all of eternity.
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