How is your new year beginning?
Whether it is an unpleasant anniversary of a Capital riot, a virus that just won’t go away, or profound uncertainty overall, how is your new year starting?
Hope is a touchy subject. Sometimes it’s viewed as naïve at least or delusional at worst. And in our broader culture, it’s now almost against the law to live with hope. Speak hopefully with any degree of certainty, and you’ll almost certainly draw looks of ridicule.
Yet, facing our present and future with hope is a privilege that is ours in Christ. I’d say it’s almost like water in a desert.
Around us – and I would directly tie it to a decline in people who know and trust Jesus – hope is giving way to fretting, panic, or outright despair. Nervousness is the new normal. Panic attacks are now spoken of as commonly as allergies were when I was a kid. (And giving my age away, I don’t think I had ever heard the term “panic attack” until after the year 2000)
So what exactly do we mean by hope in Christ? First, this is not just a positive outlook – like a buoyant temperament of a sunny disposition. Hope in Christ first is NOT circumstantial. It is hope because of Jesus – so it’s inherently personal. As in hope BECAUSE of a Person and in spite of any circumstance.
Second, rather than wishful thinking, this hope is based upon certainties, not merely possibilities. Our hope is based upon the firm reality of Who Jesus is (the God of the universe) and What He has done (by His death and resurrection, He has canceled our guilt and healed us from the threat of death). Contemporary references of hope often start with what we hope will occur (“I hope the economy improves.” “I hope Washington politicians will calm down,” etc.). But hope in Christ is like a firm foundation we can now build.
So finally, then, hope is an act of faith. Along with the certainties of what Jesus has done, He also made us profound promises. So hope in Christ is also where we appropriate the future certainties Jesus has secured for us into our present and near future. 2 Corinthians 5:7: “we walk by faith not by sight.”
I like how Eugene Peterson has said it: “Hope commits us to actions that connect with God’s promises. What we call hoping is often only wishing. We want things we think are impossible, but we have better sense than to spend any money or commit our lives to them. Biblical hope, however, is an act … Hope acts on the conviction that God will complete the work that he has begun even when or especially when the appearances, oppose it.”
So if you need this hope, it’s available to anyone – in Jesus. And if you have this hope, then share it as freely as He gave it to you. And rather than merely considering hope at the beginning of a new year, let the hope Jesus has promised to us launch you at the beginning of every day. Until He returns …