Hope. I would say it is in relatively short supply these days. It has been said that a person can live 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only one second without hope.
Where are we going to find this hope that we so desperately need? Where we won’t find it is in people or things. We won’t find it in a politician or in a political persuasion, regardless of what side of the aisle we are on. Nor are we going to find it in technology or science or in a relationship or in an accomplishment.
George Bernard Shaw, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in literature, was very outspoken about his atheism. Shaw believed in science and that humanity could accomplish great things through technology and so forth. But as he came to the end of his life, Shaw lost hope. He made this statement:
“The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established a millennium, led instead directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshipers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.”
Shaw put his faith in the wrong thing.
What is your hope in right now?
Sometimes people will put their hope in their investments or their bank account or in their home. But here is what the Bible says about this kind of hope: “The hopes of the godless evaporate. Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web. They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last. They try to hold it tight, but it will not endure” (Job 8:13-15 NLT). These are very poignant words in light of our present economic situation. We should not put our hope in people. We should not put our hope in things. We need to put our hope in God. That is what the Bible teaches.
However, we may define the word “hope” differently than the Bible does. We may think of it as wishing for or expecting something. We might even use it interchangeably with other words terms as “good luck” or “wishing upon a star.” When Jiminy Cricket was trying to encourage little wooden Pinocchio, he broke into song:
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.
You can wish upon a star all you want to, but things will not always turn out better. Things will not always be resolved. In fact, sometimes they will even get worse.
The hope Scripture speaks of is something altogether different. The Greek and Hebrew words that translate to hope speak of certainty. It is a strong and confident expectation, a supernatural certainty.
The psalmist wrote, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:5-6). Hope in God, that strong and confident expectation, will give us the strength to go on in life, because we know there is an afterlife where things will be made right.
Of course, when you make a statement like that, it will make some people angry – especially atheists. I came across an atheist website a while back that was very critical of something I wrote. They quoted me in my article as saying, “When a Christian dies, it is a direct flight to heaven. There are no stopovers. The moment we take our last breath on Earth, we will take our first breath in heaven. We go into the presence of God.” The atheists are apparently outraged by this, pointing to a lack of evidence offered to support these claims, other than “just a bunch of Bible quotes.”
“A bunch of Bible quotes” – that is right. True and lasting hope comes from God and His Word. That is where we find hope. Again, the psalmist wrote, “You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope” (Psalm 119:114).
In fact, the Bible tells us that one reason Scripture was given to us was to bring us hope: “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Romans 15:4).
And where does this hope grow stronger? In crises. It is one thing to talk about hope in theory. Yet it is another thing to put it to the test and see if it does what it is supposed to do. I have put my faith to the test, and I have tried out the promises of God. I have taken them all for a test ride, and they performed beautifully. I have found all of those things that I have been preaching all of these years to be completely true. And that is very reassuring to me.
I don’t know, however, whether it is reassuring to you. You don’t have to build your faith on what I tell you. But I am simply saying that as a Christian who has applied these truths, I have found God’s promises to be completely trustworthy. And as a result of this, I want to bring this same hope to others.
I am not a person who has gone through a valley and am now on the other side where everything is sunshine and blue skies. But I am someone who is going through a valley and finding the hope he needs day by day and is looking forward to that hope being there for the next day. Thus, I want to share it with others. As the Bible says, “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
And why is this important? Because things don’t always work out so well. Life is not fair. It is filled with inequities and injustice. Sure, there are times when good is rewarded and bad is punished. But far too often, it is the very opposite of that. We see good people suffer. We see evil people succeed. And while it is true that life is not fair, it is also true that God is good. He is also righteous and holy, and he loves all of us.
And one day in eternity, God will right all wrongs. Pain will be replaced by comfort. Tears will be replaced by joy and laughter. Heaven is where losses are more than compensated for. And this hope gives us a better perspective on the struggles of life.