I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. — Jeremiah 29:11
What a wonderful thought to know that our Lord wants to fulfill our hope. Hope is just a four-letter word, but it carries beauty and value. Note its usage in Hebrews 6:9-19.
These Scriptures reveal three important truths concerning our hope. First, God wants to give us the things we hope for.
Second, we can have full assurance of obtaining things hoped for, if we serve him with diligence.
Finally, hope is an anchor of the soul. Assurance of hope is a motivating factor. We all need this incentive to help us cope with the daily trials in life, and to keep us steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. The anchoring effect of hope gives us a center that provides emotional stability. It enables us to the see the invisible, to feel the intangible and achieve the impossible. You can’t see it or touch it, but it is powerful indeed.
Hope is of such great value that we cannot survive without it. Suicides occur at an alarming rate because life becomes hopeless. The lack of motivation results in depression, addictions and giving up on life. Every person needs something to look forward to, a goal to work toward, and continuous desire to achieve. The following story illustrates the value of hope.
The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher.
“We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.” The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon.
No one had told her the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.”
When she left, she felt she hadn’t accomplished much. But the next day a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize.
“No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”
Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?” Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.
Hope gives us something to think about. We are constantly saturated with negative things. We wake up to headline news about war, crime, sickness, pain and death. Many depressing things fill the mind. Thinking about personal struggles with pain can overcome the body and mind.
Read the testimony of one individual: “This last week I was having more physical pain than usually. I could not go to sleep at night. When I did go to sleep, I would have nightmares and wake up in pain. It was starting to affect me mentally. I consciously turned my thinking to heaven, focusing my mind on the wonders and beauties never experienced in this life that await just over the way. This relieved my mind, and with God’s help I overcame the pain. “
Negative thoughts are defeating, but hope of things eternal can provide positive things to think about. Build your hope on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Hope give us wonderful, beautiful, positive things to think about.
Hope also gives us something to talk about. We all like to talk. They say the weather is the most common subject. That explains why weather forecasting has so much commercial value. Some people like to talk about their home, their children or grandchildren. All these are very positive, but I want to suggest there is something more valuable to talk about than any of these.
Talk about heaven, our eternal hope. If we are really looking, longing, and making preparations for that pearly white city, our eternal home, does it not stand to reason we will talk about it?
I challenge you to make note of the time you spend talking about heaven. When you have opportunity, introduce the subject of heaven; rather than talk about morbid, depressing, sinful things, talk about heaven.
Hope give us something to think and talk about. It also gives us something to look forward to and work for. A young person hoping to earn a degree and start a career has an incentive to work hard with eager expectations. A family hoping to take a great vacation has the incentive to plan, work and save. A lifetime of dedicated work is easier if we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of years of retirement to look forward to.
All these provide hope that motivates us to press on in the face of life’s struggles, but hope for things eternal can provide an emotional stability far greater. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
The Apostle Paul’s attitude reflected in the following Scriptures illustrated this principle. “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21-22).
The reward he hoped for made it all worthwhile, as he explained to the young evangelist, Timothy. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Hope gives us something to think and talk about, a goal to look forward to and work for, and also something to cling to. We all need something to calm life’s troubled water. We need a rock “that is higher than I,” as the song says (“… Let me fly To the Rock that is higher than I …”).
We need something to cling to that is out of this world, far greater than anything in this world. Hope of heaven can provide us with that stability. A picture of people having no hope beyond the curtain of death is painted in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
It is the hope of being resurrected from the grave, putting off this mortal body, putting on immortality, and living in the glory of heaven we can cling to during the adversities of life. “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
Hope of salvation gives us a rock to cling to and provides great consolation. “Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17).
Do you have hope of living in the glories of heaven? God’s word provides complete instruction to assure you of that hope. I would be happy to assist you in any way.
Dewey Williams is minister for the New Palestine Church of Christ. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.