|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Bible related
Hope is such an important attribute in the life of a child of God, that God is referred to as the ‘God of hope’ in Romans 15:13. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Hope is mentioned quite often in the New Testament, for example, ‘Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope’ (Romans 15:4). Through the Scriptures we are filled with hope. ‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself as He is pure’ (1 John 3:3), because ‘without purity (holiness) no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14b).
Max Anders says that ‘hope is necessary for life; hope fuels life. If you run out of hope, you run out of the ability to keep going in life. The Scriptures give us hope in three areas:
Hope that this universe is not a great accident, that there is intelligence, purpose, and meaning behind it.’ This universe is the creation of God, not evolution. With God there is hope that the individual’s life has meaning, identity and worth.
Hope ‘that God’s grace will be sufficient to get us through the trials of life.’ Life’s trials can be severe, and only by fixing our hope on Jesus will we be able to face them. If our hope is on the world for help, we will be disappointed. We cannot control people, circumstances or possessions sufficiently to fix our hope on this world. We are to be pitied if we only have hope for this life (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Hope ‘that everything will be alright when we die. What hope! What an anchor to hold on to in the storms of life!’ We will be with Jesus. When we die we cannot control anything anymore. We have the hope that there is someone who can control life after death, namely Christ.
Ted Dekker wrote a book, The Slumber of Christianity, Nelson Books, 2005. He asks the question:
Are people in church happier than the rest of the world? Statistically, the answer is ‘no’. Percentage wise they divorce just as easily as those outside. Their lifestyle is the same.
There are exceptions, but on the whole they look, act and think the same as the world. What happened to the message that with Jesus you will be happy, your sins are forgiven, you have faith and you are blessed? His thesis is that the church has gone in a slumber. The cause of this slumber is that in general believers are asleep to the blessings of the afterlife. In other words, they have forgotten what the purpose of life is. The early Christians were persecuted, killed, tortured and they endured it. Why? They were seeing a city, a country in the future of indescribable wealth, happiness and bliss (Hebrews 11:10,14,16,26; Revelation 21-22). The eager expectation and hope of what was waiting for those earlier believers have become a groan of boredom in the church today.
His main idea is this: you cannot enjoy life to the full if you do not have this obsession with eternity. Not a purpose driven life, not adventures, nor great financial achievements, nor a perfect marriage can give you joy and perseverance. Life lived without your eyes fixed on the climax, the last minutes of life’s marathon, eternity with God, cannot satisfy. Without this preoccupation with heaven, this life with its adventures and pleasures will disappoint you, because life isn’t really about purpose or adventure in your allotted time on earth. It is more about the purpose and adventure of eternity.
Hope is the emotion that motivates (Victor Frankl who survived the holocaust, had the same insight. Those who lost hope, just died). Especially the Epistles say very little about our emotional stability, midlife crisis or a bad day at work, but they say a lot about the word ‘hope.’ Hopelessness causes slumber. Church becomes boring, prayer terrible, reading Scripture a drag. The possibility of death is more about fear than an anticipation or longing to be with God. Hope of the afterlife has become a vapor.
There is a lesson about this in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Half of those who were invited to the wedding feast responded with careful preparation. The other half who lacked oil did their preparation halfheartedly, not making allowances for delays or waiting. The parable illustrates that it is the responsibility of every individual to make sure he/she has enough oil. This is an unpopular message, because we live in a culture of quick fixes and easy solutions. Jesus impresses on the reader to take responsibility, think ahead, plan and ensure that you are ready for eternal life, if your time to meet the Bridegroom suddenly arrives in the middle of the night.
What is the solution for the children of God to get back their hope and preparation for God’s glorious life of harmony and joy in His presence? We suggest it is in the Word and the Holy Spirit. Often people tend to give advice when others are hopeless: do this, try that, decide on this. It is much better to ask the Holy Spirit, God in us, to help us to see that heaven is very real; that hope is fueled through the reading of the Word of God. To forget that you must prepare for heaven with the help of the Lord and the Bible is a dangerous game to play; one that might cost you very dearly.