The Christian Graces — Hope

 “And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).  Hope is life.   Job bemoaned the absence of hope saying, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope” (Job 7:6).  The psalmist described the absence of hope and its affect on his soul when he said, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:5).  Proverbs 13:12 asserts, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

So dependent on hope are we, that we often settle for any strand of hope offered us, even if it is near to snapping in two with the slightest pressure.  Job acknowledged to his friends that he was worthy of God’s discipline, “If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security.’”   Many have put their hope in wealth only to find it fleeting or worthless to provide real hope (Proverbs 11:4; 13:7; 15:16; Ecclesiastes 5:10,13; Matthew 13:22; 1 Timothy 6:17).  But such futile hopes eventually leave their possessors “without hope” because they are “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

The Lord describes our propensity to lean on hope of our own making when He says in Jeremiah 2:13, “My people have committed two sins:  They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”  All our attempts to find hope in something we cannot create or have access to are doomed to failure.  We are incapable of creating a hope that holds water.

This reinforces the truth that hope, in and of itself, has no eternal value.  Paul admits, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19).  Such hope in this life has value in helping us cope with pain, but ultimately, hope, to be real hope, must have a promise of eternity.  The object of hope must be the eternal God, whom to know is eternal life.  We must look for hope in “the God of hope” (Romans 15:13), to “Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1), and to the Holy Spirit whose love poured into our hearts means “hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:5).  This is the only hope of which it can be said, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

The hope that the Scriptures offer is specifically future.  Our hope is usually pointed toward the age to come, rather than being centered in this present age.  That is not to say it offers no hope for the present.  On the contrary, as will be seen, the future hope bears a strong relationship to the present hope.  But this age is passing away (1 John 2:17).  You must “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13) if you are to cure a sick, hopeless heart.


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