I've often been reminded that Christian hope is not like any other kind of hope. Christian hope is not a vain wish for what might be. Christian hope is a trust in what will be. Christian hope is based upon Christ's completed work, so our hope may be confident...not anxious, not arrogant, but confident.
This is very important. We're told by some people that the future is a matter of chance, fate, or luck. Some of these people think God doesn't exist, and some believe God can't do much even if He does exist. People who think like this sometimes end up in one of two extremes. Either they go off the deep end of hedonism, trying to escape their meaningless life in short-term pleasure. Or, they end up in the severe despair of nihilism, wishing they'd never been born and sometimes even taking their own life.
Now there is another kind of misplaced hope. Some people believe they can control the future. For them, hope for humanity and their own lives is tied up with technology or other kinds of scientific advances. Their hope is optimistic but ultimately baseless. They place their hope in human potential while rejecting God and ignoring the reality of sin. Just check the history of the Twentieth Century for a record of technological advance run amok in world wars.
So what are we left with?
On the one hand we find no hope and on the other hand groundless hope. One is pessimistic the other is optimistic.
People faced with a pessimistic future seek relief in the drug culture, alcohol, or some other emotional tranquilizer. People who assume an optimistic future tend to worship the idols of materialism, eternal youth, or leisure.
But true Christian hope is balanced. It's never pessimistic, because Christians know the Creator and Savior. We know the beginning and the end of the human story, and we know it's all in God's sovereign care. Christian hope is realistically optimistic. We acknowledge the presence of sin in the world, but we know the Lord will make things right.
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast." For the Christian--hope really is eternal.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
Revised "Making a Difference" program #012 originally recorded February 5, 1993.
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