Greetings Church! It’s is time for our second installment of Life in Christ. If you didn’t catch the first one and would like to read it, now’s your chance. Read the first post now.
Having Our Hope in Christ
This month I’d like to write about a concept that we talk about often, but admittedly can be somewhat elusive in practice: having our hope in Christ. I don’t know about you, but personally this month has been an absolute gauntlet. It has brought many tears, robbed me of sleep, and frustrated me by my lack of understanding. I can tell you there are many in our church that can say similar things; dealing with all sorts of loss, hardship, injustice, and fear.
It is in these times that our belief in God, or at least His goodness, can be put to the test. I have been thinking of it as a gut-check for what we believe. It is an easy thing to praise God when life is good and us and our families are flourishing. Yet in the dark times we tend to seek after “realer” helps or escapes as if to say “Don’t give me scripture or Jesus, this is serious!” For some, in these times praises to our savior grow quieter. It forces us to ask if we really lean on and trust our God in all things, or if he is really just an ornament for our good times.
I think the problem is that somewhere along the way we subscribed, whether intentionally or not, to the idea that nothing bad or traumatic will happen because we believe in God. This is antithetical to the witness of scripture. Of course, the testimony of scripture is that every good gift is from God, and that is a wonderful thing to keep at the forefront of your mind. But scripture also reveals that God is comforter. He comforts and sustains us in our suffering. The existence of this characteristic of God implies that suffering to take place in the Christian life. In fact, suffering is promised (2 Tim 3:2, 1 Peter 5:10 just to start).
How does he comfort us?
By giving us hope in Christ. Consider 1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Our hope is found in the enduring promise that if we are in Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. We have been saved from the penalty of our sin and have peace with God through Christ. Just as our old selves are crucified with Christ, we will be resurrected in a resurrection like his. The beauty of it is that it is not left to us to scramble to preserve the gift. It is, by God’s power, secure. We can rest easy in his strength, and boast in our weakness.
This is especially helpful to remember when we are dealing with loss and are grieving. For the believer, death has lost its sting. What does that mean? It calls us to look at the hope of the resurrection. The hope of our resurrection in Christ is to know that one day, the graves of our loved ones will be emptied. Christ will come and make all things new.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 is a passage that calls us shift our attention to the things of heaven.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
The apostle Paul makes a bold claim here. He calls the afflictions and sufferings we face in life light. I don’t know about you, but my affliction does not feel light. It feels heavy. But Paul is not saying that you should think of the things that you and others go through as easy, trivial and not a burden. Paul even writes in Galatians 6 that we should fulfill the law of Christ by carrying each other’s burdens. So how can we think of our sufferings as light? We can do that when we understand the unsurpassed magnificence of what is to come. Paul is saying our sufferings are little in comparison to the glory and the inheritance that is in Christ Jesus. What we have to look forward to and cast our hope on is far greater than anything we will experience on this side of eternity. So, when we struggle, when we feel the weight of this world, we can rest in the fact that Christ will make all things new and we will get to share in the inheritance of Christ.
Revelation 21:4 gives us a beautiful description of this inheritance: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God and man will dwell together. Everything will be made new: the graves emptied, the tears gone, sin abolished, and fellowship with our savior everlasting.
So really, what is hope in Christ?
It’s knowing and actively believing that nothing that can happen on this Earth that can displace or eclipse the peace that is to come in Christ. Whether it be loss, strained relationships, financial ruin, uncertain futures, or injustices, the promise of Christ stands firm, and thus we faithfully endure. We worship our Lord in the even in the darkest of times because we have His guarantee that we will receive all He has promised, and we know he is faithful to keep his word.
Grace and Peace,