“And Rejoice in Hope” – Bryan Hodge

“And Rejoice in Hope” – Bryan Hodge

What is hope?  Biblical hope is more than a mere wish or desire.  It is “favorable and confident expectation” (Vine’s).  Our hope is based on Jehovah God (Ps. 31:24; 39:7; 71:5; 1 Pet. 1:21), God’s word (Ps. 119:49-50, 81-82, 114; 130:5; Rom. 15:4; Tit. 1:2), and Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:1; Tit. 2:11-13; Heb. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:3, 15).  Think of the words of the song we sing, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!”

How important is it to have hope?  The Bible compares it to a Roman soldier’s helmet (1 Thess. 5:8 cf. Eph. 6:17).  Hope helps us keep our heads and stay alive in spiritual warfare.  The Bible also compares it to an anchor (Heb. 6:19).  It keeps us from drifting away from where we should be (cf. Heb. 2:1; 3:6; 3:14; 4:14; 6:19-20; 13:9 – nautical references are found throughout the book of Hebrews).  As we sing,

 We have an anchor that keeps the soul / steadfast and sure while the billows roll / Fastened to the rock which cannot move / Grounded frim and deep in the Savior’s love.

Hope is essential to salvation and perseverance (Rom. 8:24-25).  

Consider what some have said of hope.  “There is no medicine like hope, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow” (Orison Marden).  “A man can go on without wealth, and even without purpose for a while.  But he will not go on without hope” (C. Neil Strait).  “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope” (unknown).  

Hope provides courage and joy even in difficult circumstances.  Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2).  The apostles were able to rejoice when persecuted (Acts 5:42).  Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God even after being beaten and jailed with their feet in stocks (Acts 16:22-25).  Paul wrote, 

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

This optimistic outlook is taught in scripture.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Paul wrote, while in prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).  Let us remember that despite the hardships we may experience in this life, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).  We can “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is (our) reward in heaven” (Matt.5:12).  

Consider some reasons why we can rejoice in our hope: (1) God is trustworthy (Tit. 1:1-2; Heb. 6:19-20); (2) No external force can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:31-39; Matt. 5:11-12; 10:28); (3) God is in control (Dan. 4:17) and He can use even evil to accomplish good (Gen. 50:20); (4) When properly approached even the unpleasant trials of life can be used for spiritual growth (Rom. 5:2-3; Jas. 1:2-4); (5) The things we endure in this life are light and momentary and not comparable to our eternal weight of glory (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16-18)   

These are trying times in our nation and around the world.  First, there is a pandemic.  Second, there has been a shut down by many governments of the world in response to this pandemic.  This has created economic hardship and uncertainty for many.  It has also resulted in families not being able to see one another (e.g. hospital visits being restricted or forbidden).  Third, there is social and racial unrest in our nation.  Cities are burning.  Police, in some large cities, are being defunded.  Fourth, this is a Presidential election year.  People seem more polarized than ever.  Neighbors and family, in some cases, are alienated by politics.  

Here are some things to remember. First, there is no reason for a Christian to be fearful of death (Matt. 10:28).  A Christian has hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Do not misunderstand me; I am not suggesting that one should not be cautious.  However, we are all going to die someday, whether it be from Coronavirus or something else (Heb. 9:27), unless we are alive at Christ’s return (1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).  Let us “work the works of Him… while it is day” (John 9:4).  “Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9 cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-18).  Moreover, let us remember that “to depart and be with Christ… is for better” (Phil. 1:23).  

Second, there is no reason for a Christian to be fearful of a political election.  Do not misunderstand me; I do believe that elections have consequences.  I also believe that Christian light should not be hidden under a basket but should shine in this world (Matt. 5:14-16).  However, one can be a faithful Christian even in less than ideal circumstances.  The church was established and grew even during the day, of corrupt and evil Roman rules.  Our aim should be to magnify Christ in this life, regardless of what men do (Phil. 1:20).  Our ultimate hope is not in political candidates but in Christ.  Our highest ambition is not to make America great, but to magnify Christ on earth.  “This is a faithful saying: For if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He will also deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:11-13).  Additionally, let us remember that God is ultimately in control.  His will shall be done.  The Most High rules in the kingdom of man (Dan. 4:17; Acts 17:26).