For the last few months we have been looking at hope and how it applies to our everyday lives and in our sufferings. Jesus suffered more in one twenty-four hour period than we ever will in our entire lives. Jesus went to the cross knowing that He was going to suffer greatly and died an innocent man. But can you imagine that He did this willingly, and without being forced by God to give His life for us? It was either C. S. Lewis or A. W. Tozer who asked, “Did you think in His thirty-three years on this earth that Jesus didn’t witness at least ONE crucifixion? He knew the pain He was to face by going to the cross.” Still, Jesus was able to do this because of the hope that He had knowing that He was going to accomplish something great for God and humanity. I believe Jesus didn’t hesitate when God told Him that He would have to die to defeat Satan, and to bring us back from the brink of death and destruction. His hope in God’s plan was great and allowed Him to trust God to see that plan through exactly as He had laid down at the beginning of time.
And that is the hope we have in Jesus: He will make sure that, through the Holy Spirit, we can trust God in everything He told us He would do for us throughout our lives here on this planet. You see, Jesus Christ promised us that our future in Him is eternally secure. He promised us that, when we follow Him, our future will be far greater with Him in control of it than it could ever be without Him. Without Christ we can never bring about a satisfying future for ourselves without struggling to achieve things that are far beyond our reach (and are we ever really satisfied with what we’ve obtained once we have it in our hands?). With Jesus, our hope comes from knowing that His plan for our lives will bring us great satisfaction without the meaningless struggling we can cause ourselves when we take the reins, especially since He created us to achieve His purposes for our lives.
Let’s take a final look at how hope affects our lives in ways that can help us look forward to the future ahead, knowing that Jesus will make sure we survive every heartache and pain we may endure, as we go about each day giving our all to Him and to other members of this human race we belong to.
Why I should never give up hope
I want you to take that word “never” and glue it to the front of your mind, and repeat it to yourself every time something gets in the way of your future. Every time something, or someone, gets in the way of you fulfilling your dreams, especially the one that God has given you for your life, you tell them, as a believer in Christ, that the hope of Christ runs through your veins, and nothing – nothing – can keep you from living your dreams out. Don’t let money, people, society, or the government tell you that you cannot succeed in fulfilling every dream God gives to you. I will tell you from experience: if God gave you the dream, then God will do all that needs to be done to see that you get to live it out for Him.
For example, God told me last year that it was time for me to go to Bible College (I’ve wanted to go for thirteen years, right after I got saved!). I had no money for college and no way to pay back any loan that I might incur for tuition. But, God said again, it’s time. So, I applied to the college He told me to apply to. In God’s great way, I was accepted in two days and had my funding for the first year in a week, and began classes a few weeks later. I have been told that no one ever gets accepted, or gets funding, that fast. But, because God said to do it, God supplied what was needed to go. (To my readers: this is why it takes me longer now to get a new article to you, but, don’t worry, we have a long way to go in this fellowship together.) So, dream on. God will take care of you, if you just let Him use you for His glory and His purposes.
It makes my heart sick when I do.
What happens when we put off our hope for the future? What happens when we feel as if there is no hope at all of our even having a future worth living for? What happens when we feel as if our hopes and dreams have been shattered in some way, and we will never be able to make them come true? This is one of the many ways that I love the Bible and how simply it answers all our questions about life, and how it tells us like it is, holding nothing back, always giving us the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth. One of the greatest truths about hope comes from the book of Proverbs; the book of life, and how it should be lived from God’s perspective. Proverbs 13:12 boldly declares the truth when it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy (NLT).
You may be asking, “What does deferred mean, how does it make my heart sick, and what does that mean anyway?” First, deferred means to put off or delay. You may now be asking, “How do I put off hope, or delay it? I thought that hope was something you either had or you didn’t have depending on how you felt at that moment.” There are many, many people who feel the way you do. They think that hope is something that is given to some but not to others. Second, feeling hopeless makes your heart sick and depressed to the point where you see no future ahead for yourself; the sicker the heart, the closer to complete helplessness, the closer to wanting to take your own life just to get out of the pain. But that is not, and never is, the answer.
Ask someone who is depressed and see what they believe, and they will probably tell you that they are waiting for someone to show them the way to bring hope into their lives, so they can break out of their funk and find joy again. Let me tell you from experience that hope never comes from an outside, human source; hope must come from within. Hope just doesn’t come by wishing it to come; you have to generate it for yourself. You have to look into the future and try to envision a better life after the depression has lifted. But, can you truly do this on your own? The answer is a big, fat “NO,” you can’t! If you could then you would have as soon as you realized that you wanted to feel better and needed to get out of the rut you are in.
“So, where do I get hope from?” you ask. As we have talked about for these last few months, hope can only come from the One who is the only Hope for all of mankind, Jesus Christ. His hope is a perfect hope because He is the only one who can give you a future you actually want to live in. Only Jesus can lift you out of your depression, or whatever hopeless situation you find yourself in. Do not trust your feelings when you are depressed. They will make you think that there is no way out other than killing yourself just so the pain will stop. Thankfully, we have a Savior who has been where we have been in our moments of depression. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried to God to release Him from having to go to the cross. Jesus was so distraught that He cried tears of blood because of the pain He felt about what He was being asked to do to save mankind from their sins. But, like the true Savior He is, Jesus endured all of that pain so that we could be set free from ours.
Finally, we come to the last words of Proverbs 13:12 – “but when dreams come true, there is life and joy (NLT). Where do our hopes and dreams come from anyway? They come from God the Father, for He is our hope. The dreams God gives us are ones that He knows we want to fulfill. He would never give us a dream that we didn’t want to live out, because then we couldn’t achieve what He wants us to achieve for Him and His Kingdom. But, when we use the gifts and talents to fulfill the dreams He has placed in our hearts, we will find great joy in finally living a life we want to be in, because He is the source of that life. Our hopes of finally having a fulfilling future now soar into the heavens, and the joy we feel can never be diminished or taken away from us because God is the supplier of that joy, and His joy knows no end. Life is now fun and we can now see life for what it is truly meant to be lived for – the salvation of the whole world through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. God’s hope heals your heart and sets you on a path to healing the hearts of many others.
God’s plans will prosper me
”What are God’s plans for my future?’ you ask. When the seventy years of captivity in Babylon was over for the Israelites, God told the prophet Jeremiah to tell them, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you (Jeremiah 29:11-12). God told them this because He wanted His chosen people to turn back to Him, and that when they did, He would bless them by hearing their prayers for redemption once again. God wanted to give them hope that their future would be brighter if they would let Him back into their lives, as He had done many times before. The Israelites continually found out that God refused to give up hope on them even when they gave up hope on Him, and that is the kind of hope that God gives his children who believe, when we keep our eyes on him and not on ourselves or others, as the Israelites had recklessly done time and time again.
How do I use this hope in Christ
You must tell others the reason for your hope. 1 Peter 3:15 says to us, But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… God expects us to tell others the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. For example, say you just found out about a great new product that will clean your car with just one wipe; or, ladies, what about if you found a cream that made your face look as smooth as glass? Wouldn’t you want to tell your friends, maybe even strangers, about this great new product? Sure, you would. But what Jesus does for you is greater than anything man could ever devise and create.
When you become born again you will suddenly want to tell others of the peace and hope you have just found in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t take years to build up excitement (what the Bible calls zeal) about the love of Jesus Christ. That excitement comes as soon as you tell Jesus you want Him in your life. From that moment on, you will want to tell everyone you know that Jesus is the only way to true love and true relationships with others. Please don’t be surprised if you are seen as if you had a disease of some kind that no one wants to catch. Sure, you might persuade a few to see your point of view about Jesus and salvation in His Name. You see, the culture in most countries today don’t want the true God in their way, to tell them how to run their countries, or how to run their individual lives even. No, this world is moving away from God at a pace that is very frightening, but is something that God said would happen as we get closer to the end of the age.
This is where your hope in God’s promises of a future with Him in Heaven comes into a sure thing that you can count on completely. The world will try and tell you that your “religion” is wrong, intolerant, and filled with hate and wants nothing more than to destroy the personal freedom of the individual human. Remind them that Jesus Christ is not a religion, but is a relationship.
You can’t put your hope in something that could end at a moment’s notice, but you can put your hope in a Person who never ends, and will always be there for you no matter what you face in life. Hope comes from God through Jesus Christ, no other way. The world’s hope is fleeting and conditional. The only condition that Jesus places on His relationship with you is that you will keep on believing that everything He says is true and will happen in your life. If you stick with Him, He will stick with you. If you forget to stick with Him, He will stick with you. If you refuse to stick with Him, He will still stick with you. Once you have met the condition to believe that Christ is the Savior of the world, and is the only one who can forgive your sins in their entirety, then He is stuck to you like no other relationship you could ever possibly, and humanly, know.
Coming next -- The Promise of Hope -- Hope Redeemed