Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Have You Fixed Your Hope In?

What have you set your hope in?  If you’re like me, you have times of disappointment because your hopes and desires are not working out as you expected.  Everyone hopes for something in this life—something to look forward to in the future.  It’s what gives us purpose and keeps us from despair.  Some hopes are short term like having a good day at work, while others take longer to realize like owning a home.  Take some time to consider your current hopes and write them down.  I’ll bet you have a long list and find some hidden desires you haven’t expressed.  The list probably includes hopes for your family, success in the things you do, purchases you have your heart set on, enjoyable activities, and times of rest from the busyness of life.

The question we must ask is how much we have fixed our hope in these things and whether our hope in them is secure. No one wants to have their hopes remain unfulfilled.  Proverbs 13:12 captures this reality, saying, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”   Our hopes and dreams influence our heart and mind, and in turn drive our actions.  That is why it’s so important for us to place our hopes carefully, because they will determine where we end up in life and whether we find lasting fulfillment.  If our hopes and dreams are not founded upon a true hope, they will fail and disappoint.

True hopes are those we can be confident will come to pass.  This means what we place our hope in must be reliable.  Conversely, false hopes give us little assurance because we cannot trust their basis.  Both you and I, while we have great potential from God, cannot have assured hope in ourselves or others because no person can control everything in life.  Any true hope must have its foundation in God and His promises because He alone is sovereign.  Everyone must identify whether their hopes in this life are false hopes in light of the truth of Scripture.  God blesses us in many ways in this life, but we have no guarantees of satisfaction beyond God’s promises.  We must keep false hopes from directing our lives and being placed before God.

So where should we fix our hope?  Our hope should be first and foremost in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus Christ you gain the hope of redemption and resurrection.  Think about what that means.  Everyone has been so corrupted by sin that only Jesus Christ can redeem.  He willingly redeems us from certain penalty of death so that we might belong to God and obtain eternal life.  Since Christ has been resurrected all who place their faith in Him can be certain of their resurrection.  When Christ returns according to His promise, Christians will be like Him.  This is why they fix their hope in Jesus Christ above all.  He has secured their redemption and resurrection and will return. Everything pales in comparison.

Apart from Jesus Christ life is a vanity that ends in death, with no true hope.  Though you might gain much in this world it is a dead hope.  Gone is your hope for resurrection from death to eternal life.  Gone is your hope for loved ones who have died.  Gone is your connection to God your Creator and His promises.  So why do people set their hope on things in this life?  It is because they fail to recognize the immeasurable value of what they gain in Christ.  To have true hope one needs only accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith.This life is full of disappointments because we lose sight of the full assurance of hope available in Christ. If you aren’t a Christian, then accept Him, be filled with hope, and fix your mind on that hope. 

How can Christians keep the right perspective?  First, you need to recognize the corruption and deadness you are saved from.  Don’t forget the sinful life Christ has saved you from and the sinfulness that still remains.  That will remind you of the joy of your redemption in Christ.  You also need to recognize that you are adopted by God as His child.  He loves you and is accomplishing His good purposes for you through whatever trials you face now.  His Spirit is in you, reminding you that you are His child and transforming you to reflect Christ.  Finally, you need to recognize Scripture is written to confirm your hope in Christ.  When you continue reading the Word of God—the Bible— and remember the work and promises of God, it will encourage you.

What about the other hopes we have in this life?  Do they still matter?  The answer is yes, our hopes for this life matter, but they can never be set above hope in Jesus Christ.  Hope in Christ is the foundation for all our hopes in life.  If God has redeemed us in Christ, He will surely give us other good gifts.  No one has a guarantee of worldly hopes, but we can confidently submit them to God.  James 1:17 tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights...”  More importantly though, when hopes in this life disappoint and when great trials come, Christians can remain full of hope because their confidence is in Jesus Christ.  Christian hope rests on the return of Jesus Christ, not in this quickly passing life.  Fix your hope on Him and remain joyful that your hope is secure.

© Kristian Chelstrom, 2014

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