By H. Lynn Gardner
Terrorist attacks, murders, churches approving same-sex marriages, rampant pornography, cohabitation. We worry about the future for our children and grandchildren. Instead of despair, Christians should respond with hope. We have the opportunity to share the good news of hope with a hopeless world.
Hope in the biblical sense is not a generic wish for something good to happen. It is not an uncertain hope that something will happen. Christian hope is a confident assurance and expectation that what God has promised will come to pass. The Christian hope has a solid basis and wonderful benefits.
The Basis of Christian Hope
Buffeted by the stormy tempest, those on the ship headed to Rome had abandoned hope of being saved. Paul declared, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God” (Acts 27:20, 25). Instead of joining today’s cacophony of negativity, Christians need to affirm our hope based on our belief in God.
Ultimate hope finds its basis in God, since he is Creator of the universe. Putting one’s hope in a person, a nation, or material things means trusting finite created beings and things rather than the eternal Creator.
Regardless of what happens in this physical world and life, our hope of eternal life is rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In his great mercy, God “has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
A terminal illness, a loved one’s death, or a catastrophic tragedy cannot defeat hope. Our Lord said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25, English Standard Version). If our hope is limited to this world and life, Paul says, “We are of all people most to be pitied”
(1 Corinthians 15:19).
Benefits of Christian Hope
Without Christ’s resurrection, our faith and hope would be dead. Christ did rise from the dead giving us assurance that our faith and hope are not in vain (vv. 17-20). Some dismiss Christian hope as painting our wishes on the clouds. Freud saw Christian hope as an illusion based on wishful thinking. We have convincing, converging lines of evidence establishing the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection. We have a place to stand providing stability no matter what the world throws at us.
Christian hope blesses us in our daily life. Prayer and hope can drive out negative attitudes that inhibit healing. When surveyed, 90 percent of 649 oncologists considered “attitudes of hope and optimism” as most important in their patients. Dr. Paul Brand stated, “One of the most important gifts we in the health profession can offer our patients is hope, thereby inspiring in the patient a deep conviction that inner strength can make a difference in the struggle against pain and suffering.”
“To live without hope is to cease to live” (Fyodor Dostoevsky). Hope, not failure, should shape our future. Hope triumphs over darkness. Christ changes the memory of our broken past to hope for the future. Instead of focusing on our circumstances, look to Christ and the promises in his Word. Hold fast to them.
In a world of conflict, war, and uncertainty our Christian hope gives us peace with God and peace within. Hopeless people read today’s news thinking the sky is falling. These “ulcer historians” wake up to a new world every day and pronounce today the worst of times. Christians have the long view and see the big picture because of God’s faithfulness throughout history and the death and resurrection of Christ. Because of God’s grace, we can face the future with an earnest expectation and hope that enables us to handle present challenges with strength and endurance.
H. Lynn Gardner is a retired Bible college professor and academic dean living in Carl Junction, Missouri.