What can I do when all hope is lost?
My wife was at a public meeting the other night. While manning the table for the health department, a man came up to her and made a very interesting comment. He asked, “What is the difference between Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama?” He then proceeded to answer his own question.
He said, “Under Reagan we had Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. But under Obama we have no “Cash” and no “Hope.”
I would like to consider the concept of “hope.”
Hope is a Reflection of My Relationship with God
Hope is often misunderstood. We often use hope as a substitute for wish. I hope I get that new car. I hope I can get those new shoes. But hope is not wishing.
To hope is to expect with confidence. Ultimately, it means to trust (by faith) in the object (God) of your hope. It is to know in your heart that what you hope for is true. To be without hope is to have no reason for being. When people look at you, they should see something different. There should be something about you that attracts others to you. 1 Pet 3:15 states
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…
As we walk with God, our lives should be such a reflection of Christ that people take note of the hope that we have. Rom 5:1-5 says:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
This passage tells us much.
It tells us we have been justified by faith. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to obtain a right relationship with God, we are made righteous before God. Now, we still sin, but God sees us as though we “had always been righteous.”
As a result of being justified by faith, “we have peace with God…” Sin separated us from God. Therefore, man and God are now living in hostility with one another. But, by trusting in the gift of God, i.e. His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:12), we are now able to have “peace with God” and that peace with God results in
- The ending of the hostility between man and God.
- A restored relationship with God.
The passage goes on to say we now “have gained access by faith...” to God. Take note that our access results from our faith which brings us into the very presence of God. Therefore, our access to God is complete and continuous.
In addition, our access is “into this grace in which we now stand.” Our standing is in Christ alone and it is maintained by grace.
Hope is Faith in Action
Because of these simultaneous actions, we find that we are able to “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Heb 11:1 defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” This passage gives us two characteristics of hope:
- Hope appears to be future (not necessarily far away future, perhaps even tomorrow)
- Hope is a critical component of faith.
Without hope you cannot have faith and without faith you cannot have hope. In the darkest days of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, God asked Jeremiah to go out and buy a piece of real estate—complete with witnesses, a deed, and money (you can read this story in Jeremiah 32:6–15). This act seemed to make no sense, since Judah was about to be conquered and its people taken into exile. But in seventy years, as God reminded Jeremiah, the people would be set free and return to the land to rebuild homes and replant vineyards. Jeremiah’s purchase of land was to provide a beacon of hope during the long years of captivity.
A believer’s hope, since it is centered in God and His promises:
- Does not disappoint. “Disappoint” means “to be put to shame because of disappointment” in unfulfilled promises. God’s promises never go unfulfilled.
- This affirmation concerning hope in God is a reflection of Psalm 25:3, 20-21:
No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse…Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
- The reason this hope does not disappoint is that God has poured out His love into our hearts. God’s love, so abundant in our hearts, encourages us in our hope.
- And His love is poured out through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
Hope is in …
So, how does all of this relate to us as Christians in the world today? Our hope should be deepened as we consider six objects of our hope:
- We should have hope in our salvation. (1Thes 5:8)
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
- We should have hope in our righteousness. (Gal 5:5)
But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
- We should have hope as look forward to Christ’s glorious appearing. (Tit 2:13)
while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
- We should have hope in God as we await a literal bodily resurrection. (Act 24:15)
and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
- We should have hope in eternal life. (Tit 3:7)
so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
- Finally, as we mentioned before, we should have hope in the glory of God. (Rom 5:2)
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Someone has said that if you could convince a man there was no hope, he would curse the day he was born. Hope is an indispensable quality of life.
Years ago the S-4 submarine was rammed by another ship and quickly sank. The entire crew was trapped in a prison house of death. Ships rushed to the scene of the disaster off the coast of Massachusetts. We don’t know what took place down in the sunken submarine, but we can be sure that the men clung bravely to life as the oxygen slowly gave out.
A diver placed his helmeted ear to the side of the vessel and listened. He heard a tapping noise. Someone, he learned, was tapping out a question in the dots and dashes of Morse Code. The question came slowly: “Is … there … any … hope?”
This seems to be the cry of humanity: “Is there any hope?”
Hope, indeed, is the basis of all human existence in Christ! And my hope is in you, Lord!