The Christian Definition Of Hope

by Kevin Burton

   Between the virus and the election, there is great anxiety in the United States.

   I believe the great American experiment in democracy has ended. I believe it to be already over. I believe what we get this week will be a formal confirmation of that fact.

   It comes to mind to say I am “hoping against hope” to be wrong.  But wait.  Before we go there, let’s define “hope.”

   We get a very helpful definition from Bill Crowder, a writer for Our Daily Bread Ministries. This is something to cling to no matter what happens.

      In the publication “Finding Hope in a Hopeless World,” Crowder writes, “I like the way one teacher puts it. He says that for those outside of Christ, hope is a verb.  But for the child of God hope is also a noun.”

   Crowder is contrasting hope, the way you see it in a Dusty Springfield song, “Wishin’ And Hopin’” and something more solid.  

   “Hope is not something we do with gritted teeth and fingers crossed,” Crowder writes. “It is something we possess because we know the God who is the source of and the reason for our hope.”

   In other words, the unchanging character of God, His love for us, His power and control over all things, is our hope. This is not coins in a wishing well, this is much more.

   “True hope is dynamic and powerful because it considers the circumstances of life realistically and then confidently rests in the words and assurance of God,” Crowder writes.

   Living in the physical world, life “under the sun” as described in Ecclesiastes, while simultaneously functioning “in heavenly places” as described in Ephesians is no easy exercise.

   This “hope” that Crowder describes is the essential tool that allows the Christian to keep it all together. The better our ability to keep our eyes on God, the source of our hope, and off the troublesome, changing circumstances on earth, the more peace we will have.

   When we despair because we have our eyes more on the world and less on God, I call that “falling apart at the seems.” 

   Yes I am spelling that s-e-e-m-s because we are reacting to the way things seem, not the way things truly are under the control of God in Christ’s victory at the cross.

   “Hope that is grounded in Christ’s resurrection will shape the way we approach present-tense living, because it gives us a future tense perspective.”  Crowder writes.

   So when you see a quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzache, “Hope is the worst of evils because it prolongs the torments of man,” you can interpret it properly.  Apart from God hope is even worse than Nietzache says. It’s a soap bubble floating in the sun, distracting us from potential solutions.

   But within the knowledge of God’s kingdom, hope proves that those so-called torments are temporary and thus not as bad as they seem. 

   So we’re seen how hope is a verb is limited. Some of us got the news from Schoolhouse Rock early on in life that a noun is “a person place or thing.”

   Hope as a noun is a thing, a sort of currency the Christian uses to navigate life successfully. It is also a place, the kingdom of God that exists on earth, not just in heaven.  

   Most of all hope is a person, Jesus Christ.

   It’s not difficult to type out this message.  It makes all the sense in the world. But don’t you know, the slings and arrows of life come so fast and without stopping, if I’m not careful I can get up from this desk and be back in stomach-churning despair in no time at all. 

  You’ve been there no doubt. 

  So that’s how we need to help each other in the body of Christ.  It’s very important this week, especially if we enter into a prolonged period of leadership that does evil in the sight of the Lord, the way Israel did in Old Testament times. 

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