Hal Lindsey reportedly said, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” The thought behind this statement is that hope is necessary in life. The following story demonstrates the importance of hope on the human spirit:
“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 its prison house of death. Ships rushed to the scene of 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 the 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!”
In the same way, we all need hope for the enrichment of our lives.
What is hope? Hope is a concept involving trustful anticipation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of the promises of God. Hope is unique to the human spirit. It has kept people alive under unbearable circumstances. Hope has resulted in some outstanding axioms including “hope springs eternal in the human heart” and “where there is life there is hope.” Ecclesiastes 9:4 says, “But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.”
Yet, though hope is so important to humanity, many people are quite hopeless.
The results of hopelessness
An absence of hope leads to a loss of vision, a sense of despondency and ultimately to despair. This contrasts sharply with the Christian hope.
The lack of hope results in several strong feelings.
Hopelessness leads to despair
(Consider the following verses)
“If I wait for the grave as my house, If I make my bed in the darkness, If I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ And to the worm, ‘You are my mother and my sister,’ Where then is my hope? As for my hope, who can see it?” (Job 17:13–15, NKJV)
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12, NKJV)
“For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope.” (1 Chronicles 29:15, NKJV)
Hopelessness leads to a sense of being abandoned by God
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:1–2, NKJV)
“And I said, “My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD.”” (Lamentations 3:18, NKJV)
“Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’” (Ezekiel 37:11, NKJV)
Hopelessness leads to a deep longing for life to end
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”” (1 Kings 19:4, NKJV)
““Why is light given to him who is in misery, And life to the bitter of soul, Who long for death, but it does not come, And search for it more than hidden treasures;” (Job 3:20–21, NKJV)
“Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: And look! The tears of the oppressed, But they have no comforter— On the side of their oppressors there is power, But they have no comforter. Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, More than the living who are still alive.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1–2, NKJV)
What happens when people are trapped in hopelessness?
People have the choice of trusting in God or of trusting their own futile self-effort. For example, Abraham had no humanly possible hope of having a child. His first inclination was to go on his own and he had a child by his concubine—Ishmael. But this was not the child of faith. Abraham continued to believe God and was given the child of promise—Isaac. Romans 4:18 says of Abraham, “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”” His hope was not in his humanness but in the God of promise.
The result of remaining in a hopeless position is to remain separated from God. It seems that those in a hopeless state remain that way because they are unwilling follow the commands of God. We see this from the discourse between Jeremiah and people of Israel—““Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”” (Jer 18:11–12).
Consider their response! They were given the option of turning from their evil ways or facing the wrath of God. They thought it was impossible to turn to God, so they determined they would walk according to their own plans…the dictates of his evil heart.”
Thus, hopelessness draws people away from God. We don’t have to live in hopeless, especially when living in the hope that God provides is so beneficial—even when life brings about unbearable situations.
The results of hope
Hope gives believers confidence and reassurance in this present life, allowing them to lead effective lives for God. It also reassures them of the reality of eternal life, allowing them to face death with confidence.
Hope reassures believers in this present life
Hope reassures believers in their faith. We can have confidence in the promises of God. The most important promise made to us as believers is that we can hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end (Heb 3:6). We can know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Eph 1:18–19). We can hold to this hope without wavering because God who promised our eternal destiny is faithful.
Hope encourages believers
Only God can deliver us. He is our rock. He is a fortress of defense to save us (Ps 31:2). We become encouraged when we wait on the Lord. He restores our strength. In Him we can walk and not grow faint (Isa 40:31). Those who wait for the Lord will not be ashamed (Isa 49:23). We are encouraged in hope because hope does not disappoint. Our hope is real because it is an outpouring of the love of God through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5).
Hope encourages believers to rejoice
Hope encourages us to rejoice (Ro 12:12). Even as we go through the difficulties of life, we can rejoice because our faith brings us into the peace of God. God has given us access by faith into this grace in which we stand so we can rejoice in hope (Rom 5:1-2).
Hope leads to more effective Christian living and witness
When we live in hope of the promises of God, we have the ability to live a more effective life in several ways. First, hope encourages believers to be bold (2 Cor 3:12—Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech).
Second, hope encourages believers to evangelize (1 Pet 3:15—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…).
Third, hope leads to godly living (Heb 6:10-12—For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.)
Fourth, hope equips believers for spiritual warfare (1 Thes 5:8—But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.)
Fifth, hope enables believers to face suffering with confidence (Rom 5:3-5—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.)
Hope enables believers to face the future with confidence
Living in hope helps us understand the plan of God and thereby live with confidence. Our hope enables us with this regard in several ways.
First, hope assures believers of an eternal dimension to life (1 Cor 15:19—If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.) Our hope must have impact on our eternal destiny or it is worthless.
Second, hope enables believers to face death with confidence (Ps 16:9–10—Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption).
Third, hope assures believers of their eternal life (1 Pet 1:3—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.)
Fourth, Hope enables believers to face the coming wrath with confidence (1 Thes 1:10—…to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.) Only those who have trusted in Christ will escape the final wrath of God.
Fifth, hope assures believers of their heavenly inheritance (1 Pet 1:3–5—Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.) Believers can know the hope of His calling (Eph 1:18).
Are you living in the hope God has for you? We learn much about our hope from Rom 15:13. God is the God of hope.Paul wanted God to fill his readers with all joy and peace. Joy relates to the delight of anticipation in seeing one’s hopes fulfilled. Peace results from the assurance that God will fulfill those hopes. These are experienced as believers believe in Him. As a result believers abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.With this great assurance we can live the life God has prepared for us.
Are you placing your hope in the God of promise even during your most difficult times?
 Tan, Paul Lee. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996. Print.
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