The Heart of Hope
Pastor Jonathan Burt
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1–5).
People place their hope in many things. Some put their hope in people, looking to find fulfillment and satisfaction in relationships. Others hope in wealth, putting their trust in job security, an inheritance or the economy. Even more people put their hope in their own efforts and abilities, relying on their own strength to see them through. Others hope in the goodness of humanity. But all of these hopes have one thing in common: they disappoint. People fail us, wealth can disappear with job loss or a change in the economy, our own skills can vanish due to illness or accident. As for the goodness of humanity, the endless litany of violence, deceit, greed, malice, and pride that bombard us in the news every day leaves little to hope for in that area.
Hope looks to the future; it seeks for something that has not yet happened. Because of this, hope requires trust, trust in something or someone. Therefore to have a genuine hope you have to have a deep trust in the source of your hope. It is hope that allows us to go through troubles with courage. It is hope that allows us to handle delays with patience. It is hope that keeps us going on when all seems dark.
The foundation for our hope as Christians is the love of God through Christ Jesus. Faith/trust in that love is grounded on the reality that Christ has already died for us. His death declares that all of our sins have been forgiven and all of His benefits are ours if we come to Him and trust that He has forgiven us! This incredible abundant grace of God allows us to stand and rejoice whatever circumstances come our way. It is trusting that God is with us, and not only with us but in us, that transforms trial into an encounter with His grace. A weightlifter endures the trial of the gym because he knows that is building muscles. In the same way, trust in God in the trials we encounter produces endurance/perseverance knowing that those situations are producing in us Christlike character, and that transforming work results in hope. The powerful reality is that this hope will not disappoint and the testimony of that is God’s love poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. He is the promise of good things to come. The hope for the Christian is not in an earthly kingdom; instead, we are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Every trial can be endured, every difficulty surmounted through the twin realities of the Spirit of God in us and that the Son of God, who died and rose again, is returning for us.
What kills hope? It is a lack of faith/trust. What kills trust? Lack of relationship. I have noticed in my Christian journey that the measure of hope and joy that I have in Jesus is directly correlated to the time I spend with Him. When the relationship is neglected…hope begins to fail. When my relationship does not involve the conscious decision to trust Him…then fears and worries replace hope and endurance. What is the solution? Return to the heart of God…“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity” (Jeremiah 29:11–14). He will not turn you away and in trusting Him you will find hope once more!