Hope and Hopelessness

Hope and hopelessness are polar opposites and both are present in our world. Every person will basically be living their life in one of these two places.

The Hopelessness of Our Culture. If recent studies and reports are to be believed, depression and hopelessness are growing at a very noticeable rate in America. Life is losing its sparkle for many. And the suicide rate is going up. For many, including a growing number of younger people, life is being viewed as one bad cosmic joke. They have tried most everything that is advertised to bring happiness, peace and contentment. But, aside from a fleeting rush of adrenalin, what is advertised never really results. In fact, the results are grossly deficient.  Centuries ago, billionaire King Solomon tried everything that money could buy: pleasure, education, wealth and even lots of work projects. But he discovered that these were just mirages on the desert of life. He likened his pursuit of those things to that of attempting to grab hold of the wind; a rather useless activity. It was rather depressing, but nevertheless a reality. Most in our culture today don’t know of Solomon’s conclusions as he recorded them in the O.T. book of Ecclesiastes. However, they do personally experience exactly what he was talking about. Our culture, in spite of some bursts of bravado, is quickly sinking into hopelessness. And if we just give it a little thought (and watch the multitude of advertisements on TV), what does the culture really offer people?

The Hope Possessed by the Follower of Jesus Christ. For the person who has placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is great hope. In fact, “great” hardly does justice to the reality of it. But what is “hope”? We need to be clear on what the Bible means when it speaks of “hope”. The Bible often uses the term, but here we want to look at the verse where the Apostle Paul spoke of “looking for the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).  “Hope” is not wishful thinking; such as, “I hope I can go hiking tomorrow” when lying in traction in the hospital with two broken legs; or, “I hope to have a gourmet meal tonight” when it is “mac and cheese” cooking on the stove. Biblical “hope” is best defined as a “confident expectation.”  It is a happy anticipation of future events that will be experienced. They will be experienced simply because it is based on the promise and power of our great God, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

But this is also declared to be the blessed hope. The word “blessed” is the Greek word markarios, which was used by the Lord Jesus in the “beatitudes” in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1-12). This word communicates the concepts of “contentment”, “happiness”, “fulfillment”, “richness” and “prosperity.” In the future, at the return of the Lord Jesus, these will characterize our lives. Beginning with the Rapture event, everything God originally intended in the Garden of Eden to be true for human beings will be our experience. In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul spoke of the “hope of salvation”; that is, the final deliverance of believers, which will take place at the Rapture immediately before the Tribulation. Then at the Second Coming, the eternal rule of God is established: first the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Messiah, and then the eternal phase of the kingdom on the new earth (Rev. 21:1). For believers in Jesus Christ, the “blessed hope” begins at the Rapture event, and many matters are part of the “blessed hope”, including the following ones.

  • THE RECEIVING OF NEW BODIES. The fragility and decline of our present bodies is an inconvenient truth that we all have to deal with, especially as the years go by. Disease, deformity and ultimately physical death are unpleasant realities. But that will change suddenly and supernaturally at the Rapture when “in an atom of time” (Gr. en atomo) (1 Cor. 15:51-52), Jesus will change these “vile bodies” like unto “His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21). No more will we have the unwanted prospect of death, or the anguish of disease. We will have bodies that will live forever in beauty and strength. Now, that is something that certainly fits into the category of “blessed”; does it not?
  • THE REMOVAL OF THE “FLESH” (the sin nature). Believers who desire to live godly for Christ, are irritated daily by their sinning. It gets frustrating and often demoralizing to keep doing things and thinking things which are sinful. But all that will change when we are freed from the presence and power of sin (Rom. 6 and 7). To live without the presence of the flesh and, therefore, always live in the ways and will of God will be a “blessed” relief. 
  • THE DOMINANCE OF JOY. In life today, joy is a scarce commodity. We might have a brief moment or two of joy, but it quickly evaporates in the heat of life’s trials and troubles. Joy is a condition of pure delight that is going to characterize Jesus’ kingdom rule, as He will be anointed with the “oil of gladness” (Heb. 1:9). As Jesus faced the crucifixion, He looked beyond the cross to “the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2), which was His kingdom rule over those He had redeemed. Life in the future kingdom will be continuous “pure delight”. Jesus invited His faithful servants to “begin to experience” His joy in the kingdom (Matt. 25:21, 23). This “pure delight” was seen by the prophets as one of the dominant characteristics of this coming messianic age (e.g. Isa. 35:6, 10; 60:15; 61:7). Nothing in our culture can produce this joy, in spite of the slick advertising that would try and tell us otherwise. Constant joy. What a blessed hope this is.
  • A LIFE WITH MEANING AND CONTENTMENT. In the original creation, God gave to Adam and Eve meaningful activity along with the challenge to subdue their environment (“scientific” discovery and application). There is much we do not know about God’s future kingdom, but it is clear that life then will also be filled with meaningful activity, since “His bondservants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:7). With human kings and nations present, we can imagine the immense variety of responsibilities and activities for God’s people. (Rev. 21:24). We will not be bored with life. Work and activities will bring great satisfaction and meaning to our lives.
  • A PURE, UNHINDERED RELATION WITH OUR GOD. This kind of relationship has only vaguely been experienced in this life. We do have moments of wonderful worship of our Creator-Savior, but that is another thing that can quickly evaporate in the presence of the world and the flesh. But the world, the flesh and the devil do not exist in the future, forever kingdom of God. God Himself is going to dwell with us and we will see His face (Rev. 21:3; 22:4). Remember those wonderful moments of fellowship and worship? Those will be permanent realities once Jesus’ glorious return takes place. Life as God originally intended for mankind, back in Eden, will become an eternal reality; a “blessed hope.”
  • THE KINGDOM WILL BE CHARACTERIZED BY RIGHTEOUSNESS. It is likely that you, along with many others, are disgusted and angered by the level of corruption and injustice that exists in human government, including our own. It really has become true that evil is called good, and good is called evil. It is true that guilty people walk free, while many who are not guilty are punished. This continues to be a growing reality in our world. However, no such thing will be true in the rule of King Jesus. “Justice and righteousness” will characterize His rule (Isa. 9:7; 11:4-5), and in the time of the eternal kingdom (2 Pet. 3:13). Evil doers in Messiah’s kingdom face immediate judgment, as Jesus rules with a “rod of iron” (Psa. 2:9). We will be freed from the oppressive corruption of man’s kingdoms and will operate in a kingdom of pure righteousness. This too is part of our “blessed hope.”

There is so much more that could be included in our “blessed hope.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we stand apart from our hopeless culture. It is totally His grace and goodness that gives us this confident expectation of the future. And it all begins at the return in glory of the Savior. 

Hope Lived Out in Our lives. The book of Hebrews states that Jesus faced the Cross which was not a joyful prospect to Him. But Jesus looked beyond the Cross to the time of great glory, joy, peace and righteousness. This kingdom would certainly come to pass, because God’s promises and power guaranteed it. Jesus modeled life for us, as He looked beyond the present cross to the future kingdom. We need to apply this lesson of looking beyond present troubles and focusing on our “blessed hope.” Our lives now are not suddenly going to become carefree and joyful. Life is hard. But shouldn’t we be very different from the growing trend of hopelessness in our culture? It is true that we can easily be infected by the culture. But our focus is not to be on the latest travesties taking place in Washington D.C. or the terrible perversities emerging in the public school. (These are significant and need to be resisted within the means provided in our rule of law). But they should not become the focus of life. The Scriptures, however, call for us to focus on Jesus and on our “blessed hope.”