“I hope” is a very common expression in uncertain times like the ones in which we find ourselves over the last several weeks. Everyone can say I hope I don’t catch the virus. I hope this will be over soon. I hope things will be back to normal soon. I hope we can begin going to church soon. I hope the economy will recover soon. Well, you get the point and I’m sure you have hopes that I have not addressed for I do not know your hopes and desires. Everyone’s situation is different, and our hopes and fears are likewise different. But irrespective of what comprises your hopes we can rest easy. The psalmist advises us (Psa. 62:5-8): “Find rest, O my soul in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O peoples; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” God is our hope. God alone. Notice that we are to trust in Him at all times: good times and bad times, uncertain times, times which we have not previously experienced, at all times we are to put our hope in the Lord. Thomas Brooks, the Puritan pastor, said there will be “strange providences that we meet with” BUT “they shall raise us nearer to heaven.” These are indeed strange times: times of somewhat irrational fear, times of isolation and uncertainty. However, our hope is in God and in His divine mercy and grace. As the song says, “Even though it be a cross that raiseth me still all my song shall be, nearer, my God to Thee, nearer to Thee.” Let this time of upheaval draw you closer to the Lord. Put your hope in Him. Psalm 147:11 says, “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” An unfailing love – what better hope than that? He will never fail you, irrespective of the strange and difficult twists and turns of His divine providence. His plan is perfect and in that is our hope.
I must add also that this is an expression I have heard too many times when I have asked people about their salvation, when I ask that simple evangelistic question: if you died tonight would you go to heaven? So, so many answer I hope so. It is an old saying in business – hope is not a good strategy. It is a far different thing to put you hope in God than to merely hope you are the recipient of His special love for His own. Only hoping you will go to heaven is not a good plan. The Word of God tells us we can know for certain that we are accepted in God’s sight and will be able to stand in the judgment. But good feelings about our condition, good self-assessments without some grounding in Scripture do not make up a good hope. The only hope for sinners is in Christ and His sacrificial death by which you may be “holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the Gospel.” This is the hope for sinners, and all of us are sinners. But this is the hope – “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (c.f. Colossians 1:21-29) If your hope of eternal life, a life in heaven is founded on some vague hope and not the hope held out in the Gospel, my hope is that you will pray and ask the Lord to forgive you, to open your eyes, change your heart, give you the gift of faith, in order that your hope of glory may be Christ in you. If you know someone who has this somewhat, uncertain “hope” of being “all right” when they meet the Lord, what better time to show them where true hope lies.
If you have a good hope, be thankful for it and give God praise every day. Romans 5:2: “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Put on the hope of salvation as a helmet (I Thess 5:8) to ward off the worries and fears of our present situation. This, too, will pass, and it is for God’s glory and our ultimate good.
The psalmist wrote in Psa. 131:3, “O Israel, [O America, O Pleasant Grove, O _______ fill-in the blank with a name] put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”