Hope In Times That Seem Hopeless

Like a thick fog, hopelessness seems to be descending on and blanketing our world. Surveys reveal that people these days have a pretty pessimistic view of the future. Hope is in short supply but depression is not. Of course, if their hope rests on government, financial institutions, the culture or the success of their favorite sports team, then they probably have reason to feel hopeless. But that ought not to be the case for those who follow Christ. We have real hope. Hope in the Scriptures is not wishful thinking…like “I hope to win the lottery tomorrow and become a multi-millionaire.” Hope in the Bible is confident expectation. It speaks of that which is certain. It will take place. It is confident expectation because the truths come from the Lord God. It is He who has promised and guaranteed that certain things are true for the believer in Jesus Christ. The truths rest squarely on His character. Here are a few specifics to consider.

We can live with confident expectation because we have a good shepherd. One of the great truths about our relationship with the Lord is that He has committed Himself to care for us and to protect us. He is our Good Shepherd. When we look at Psalm 23 and John 10:11-15, the sacrificial love that the Shepherd has for His sheep is so very clear. Our shepherd knows everything and so is never caught off guard by the trials and difficulties that enter our lives. Yes, the “valley of the shadow of death” does exist. However, our shepherd is all powerful and so there is nothing that can overpower Him and make it impossible for Him to deliver or protect. Our shepherd is good and so He always provides and does what is best for us. Being good is His very nature. There is nothing that Satan or this decaying culture can throw at us that the Good Shepherd cannot handle with ease. How good it is that the “right man” is on our side, as Martin Luther noted long ago. This truth provides inner strength and needed perspective as we live day by day. We have One who provides for us and protects us.

We can live with confident expectation because of God’s plan for our lives. The life that we now live can be one of great value and purpose. Romans 12:2 reminds us that God’s will is both good and it is perfect, or complete. Coming to understand that God has a perfect plan for each of us can give us a very different view as we get up each morning.  Romans 12:2 suggests that coming to understand this will of God will require thoughtful submissiveness on our part. But what will emerge is a life with meaning and purpose. Our days may appear mundane and routine, but really aren’t in the hands of the Lord Jesus. Our great Lord can take our daily prayer time, our interaction with family and friends, or our sharing of the gospel with a random person in the park, and He can bring about results that have eternal consequences. This gives a dynamic to our ordinary days. God’s individual plan for each of us is “good and perfect.” If He did not have purpose for us here and now, He would take us home to be with Himself. 

We can live with confident expectation because of Jesus’ any moment return.  The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ could come for His own people at any time is a cause of great hope for the believer. There is the absolute certainty that Jesus Christ is coming again to gather His own people to Himself. This is referred to as the “blessed hope” (the blessed certainty). There is no person, nation, force or combination of these that can thwart or even delay for a minute His return. In Titus 2:11-15, the Apostle Paul declared that Jesus came the first time to finalize the matter of salvation. And He, our great God and Savior, is coming again to deliver us from the present evil world and bring about the final phase of our redemption; when we become what God always intended for us to be. To be completely freed from the wiles of the devil, the corrupting world system as well as our own flesh which wages war against the Spirit, is one fabulous expectation. Having this confident expectation, we are “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age…and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:12, 14). Being reminded of this wonderful truth of the “blessed hope” gives great resolve in helping us live well in this hopeless culture. 

We can live with confident expectation because of the character of God. Inseparably connected with the points already made in this paper is the very nature of the Lord our God. His attributes make it possible for us to live with confident expectation. He is TRUTH, so what we have been told is completely accurate, without falsehood or deception. What He has said, He will do without adjustments. He is ALL POWERFUL, so He has all power necessary to fulfill His promises, and there is nothing or no one that can resist Him. He is ALL KNOWING, so there isn’t something that He forgot to factor in when making His commitments. In the future, He will not stumble upon some new data that He was unaware of which will change things. This brings great security to us as we live out our lives. He is IMMUTABLE (unchanging), so that His promises and His truths will not be different tomorrow or next month. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is LOVE, so that all of these future expectations are what is the very best for us. This love does not ebb and flow with the circumstances of life, nor with our failures.  He is SOVEREIGN, so there is no rival force that will issue a new “executive order” to counter or eliminate what God has declared. He is HOLY, meaning He is separate from all evil and is absolutely pure in His being and in His deeds. We are to be holy and, therefore, must not allow the sin of hopelessness (unbelief) to enter and take root in our lives. He is OMNIPRESENT, so we are never alone as we face life with its trials and difficulties. Our Lord is not off somewhere in the universe and is, therefore, out of touch with what is going on in our lives. The fact that He is everywhere present brings comfort to the believer.

These attributes also communicate the important fact that the Lord our God is the only God. Any other “gods” have been manufactured by fallen man, or by Satan who wants to be like the true God. The Bible reveals much about the one and only God and about His truth and promises. There is no other god that can somehow appear and thwart what our great God has declared to be true.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the three qualities of faith, hope and love, and said that the greater was love (1 Cor. 13:13). This is so because faith and hope are limited by time. In eternity, faith will have become sight and there will be no need for hope because all that God promised will have become reality. But hope is important now. As those who belong to the Lord Jesus and follow Him in this life, great is our hope. And I suspect that if we live with such confident expectation in a hopeless culture that there may well be inquiries as to why we live in such a positive way. By living in the confident expectation given in the Scriptures, we will bring honor to our Heavenly Father, as well as experiencing His peace in our lives.