A long gaze backward over the ages that make up the whole of human history can only really result in one conclusion: that man’s heart condition has not changed. No collective human wisdom has prevailed over our inclinations towards destructive behavior nor has our instinct for selfish indulgence seemingly lessened any notable degree.
In the land of plenty, there is still want. In the age of information there is still ignorance. In a time of incredible advances in medicine, death remains inescapable. And in spite of all the leaps made in technology and space exploration, the inner space of our own souls continues to be unsatisfied and unfulfilled.
Because of the various broken promises of hope made by men and institutions throughout the ages, one might be tempted to give way to depression. Because of the uselessness of seeking hope in politics, social reform, better health, biogenetics, astrophysics, literature, philosophy, material possessions, and even self improvement, one might utterly surrender to the grim grip of despair.
Let’s face it. At the best of times and under the best of circumstances, our world cannot preserve for us such a sure haven of hope and peace that the corruption of human nature cannot in time invade and defeat it. Whether we are speaking of world conflict as nation continues to threaten other nations with wanton slaughter and mass destruction or if we are considering the ongoing rise of conflict in the home as husbands and wives separate and divorce or children suffer from various forms of neglect and abuse, signs of our collective moral failure surround us and saturate our culture.
Even education cannot cure the curse of man’s struggle with himself and with his neighbors. At best (and I’m being generous), it is only capable of addressing “how” folks can live life; it cannot supply them with the “want to” for the making of choices that address the deepest needs in their lives.
All we have left then, as we wallow in these realizations, is an empty void waiting to be filled with temporary “fixes” in life as people float from one experience to another in their endless quest for meaning and hope.
But there is a “filling” that does not fade away and a hope that does not wither though the years run by.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV).
The hope that is offered us by God through Jesus is not a silly promise that life is going to be easy and every little whim that we have is going to be met. Neither is it an ethereal concept that can only be talked about and never experienced. Nor is it even some great reward reserved for “ultra-religious” or “super-spiritual” persons that have somehow achieved it through their own righteous works or self-enlightenment.
No, this “living hope” is reserved for anyone who is humble enough to recognize his or her need for it and willingness to shrug off all the old counterfeits that once had been trusted, to embrace the gift of God’s love, no matter how abysmally he or she has failed in the past. It is a hope that recognizes the price that Jesus paid by dying for our sin, yet chooses to also believe that He has risen from the dead, conquering death not only for Himself but for all who place their faith in Him.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV).
So whatever desperate trial surrounds you now, remember that it is for only “a little while” and that the God Who defeated death by raising His Son again in a glorified body that cannot die again, has established for you a destiny greater than any that this world can offer.
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-8 NIV).
So you do not need to be a slave to despair. You do not need to feel oppressed by ogres of doom and gloom. God’s Word declares for you an eternally enduring hope that survives the upheavals of the world. God Himself invites you to the peaceful surety that He has an inheritance for all who become His children through faith in Christ. And He welcomes you to walk with Him through the years of your life in victory as you believe that He truly has an eternal place of joy and peace “kept in heaven for you”.