I was asked to write something for my church’s Advent devotional booklet they printed and gave out for this season. I wrote on hope, and wanted to share it here.
“Hope is a heartfelt, joyful conviction that our short term future is governed by an all-caring God, and our long-term future, beyond death, will be happy beyond imagination in the presence of the all-satisfying glory of God.” John Piper
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I read the above quote recently and it struck a serious chord. Not simply the reality of “our short term future is governed by an all-caring God,” but that hope can be a heartfelt and joyful conviction. Joyful! I confess that up until a few years ago, the idea of hope was a Christian buzzword with not a lot of power. The idea of hope didn’t affect me too greatly. I guess I thought of hope solely as wishful thinking. I then learned how truly powerful and life-giving hope in the Lord can be in my life.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, in my paraphrase, says this: Don’t lose heart, child. Hope in Me, be renewed daily. Fix your heart’s eye on Me, not on what is temporary and constantly changing.
Isn’t this freeing? Letting ourselves be taken care of by a gracious and good God for the future, two days from now or twenty years from now, frees us to live joyful, to love others, to fight the good fight. Acknowledging that our hope rests on an unchanging God, we are graced with the ability to choose joy in a disappointing circumstance, to choose faith over fear, or humility over pride.
Hope is like faith in the future tense. It is believing God’s promise for the present moment. And even more so, believing God’s heart and character in a present situation. One of His greatest promises? The life available to us because we are ‘in Christ,’ because of Jesus. 1 Peter 1:13 says “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I don’t think hope here is wishful thinking for something to happen, I think it’s a matter of complete confidence.
Ask God to transform you. Invite Him in to be your true Hope, to help you lean in to the reality of His nature, His purposes, His promises.
Today I encourage you to think about the object of your hope. Is it your work achievements, your reputation, your wealth? Do you hope in your own effort to live a life that glorifies God, or do you hope in God, no matter the circumstances or emotions?
What can you do in practice to refocus your attention from the light and momentary troubles to the eternal glory that outweighs them all? What helps you fix your eyes and the attention of your mind on the eternal rather than the temporary?
I hope you are inspired and challenged , my friends.