By Randy Alcorn, from his September 18, 2013 blog at http://www.epm.org
Hope is a much stronger word in the Bible than it is for most of us today. The hope of deliverance and resurrection is based solidly on the promise of an almighty, truth-telling, covenant-keeping God who never fails and is never thwarted, who always keeps his promises. Whenever we hope for what God has promised, we don’t wish for a possibility; we anticipate a certainty.
Researchers conducted a study on stress with Israeli soldiers. They assured one group that the march would end at a certain point, but kept the other group in the dark. Although both groups marched an identical distance, those who didn’t know how long they would march registered a much higher level of stress. Why? Because they had no hope, no tangible assurance that the forced march would end. They felt helpless, wondering when, or if, they could ever rest.
Hope points to the light at the end of life’s tunnel. It not only makes the tunnel endurable, it fills the heart with anticipation of what’s at the other end: a world alive, fresh, beautiful, and without pain, suffering, or war. A world without disease, without accident, without tragedy. A world without dictators or madmen. A world ruled by the only One worthy of ruling. Though we don’t know exactly when, we do know for sure that either by our deaths or by Christ’s return, our suffering will end. From before the beginning, God drew the line in eternity’s sand to say for his children, “This much and no more, then endless joy.”
Suffering is God’s invitation to look to Jesus and look forward to Heaven. The answer to the problem of evil is a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. No one else and nowhere else will satisfy.
Life on earth matters not because it’s the only life we have, but precisely because it isn’t–
it’s the beginning of a life that will continue without end.
Proverbs 13:12 — Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Psalm 131:3 — My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself; I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
2 Corinthians 4:18 — So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Romans 12:11-12 — Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 15:13 — May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Teach us, gracious Lord, to begin our deeds with reverence, to go on with obedience, and to finish them in love; and then, to wait patiently in hope, and with cheerful confidence to look up to you, whose promises are faithful and rewards infinite; through Jesus Christ. Amen. –George Hickes