Part 2: The Hope to Come

Hope is a fragile thing. When things go wrong, our hopes and dreams are the first to take a hit. So often we give up on our hopes purely because they don’t look like they will ever come to pass. ‘It was just a hope’ we say, ‘nothing more’.

Many Christians – myself included – have given up on many hopes we have had in the past. In our excitement for God and Jesus and life for Him we gear ourselves up with so many hopes. One way or another, these hopes all seem to wind up crushed. It’s left us with a difficulty in hoping that some things will ever change; our world will always stay the same, with the same fears and problems and injustices…
We come to the conclusion, sometimes, that hope can’t change the world; that, to live in the world, we need to be realists. Only what can be tangibly seen ought be hoped for. Only what we can see coming up need be hoped for.
Given the world we live in, that doesn’t leave us with much hope.

When it comes to hope, the bible takes a radically different view. In its pages hope is not only alive and well, but the impossible is hoped for and – all too often – the impossible becomes a tangible, incredible reality. Paul in Romans 8 deals with this head on, writing to a church that had begun to suffer for what they believed. The Roman Empire – and the city of Rome especially – were staunchly pagan places. Public office, private holidays, even walking down the street could force a Christian into an awkward rut: worship the gods, or be vilified. Just ten years after this letter was written, thousands of Christians would be crucified for their faith after the Emperor Nero made them into scapegoats for the Fire of Rome.

It wasn’t easy to be a Christian in 1st Century Rome. If they had to hope for only the things they see, then all hope would be lost.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18 (ESV)

These are the words Paul wrote to them, and they tell us much about being a Christian and suffering. Even though he doesn’t use the word hope in this part, he is talking about it, because he is calling to their minds the promises made by God, not only by Jesus but by the prophets as well;

In countless places in the prophets God promises a day when all will be set right. In Isaiah 65 God says ,

Behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.

And, further on in the same passage He says,

No more shall the sound of weeping be heard, nor the cry of distress. No more shall there be an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days.

This is an old hope, an old promise. Ever since the Fall, the world has not been right; sin and evil were not part of the world God called ‘very good’ in Genesis. Throughout the scriptures, God promises that a day is coming when all will be set right, where there will be no more crying, weeping, suffering or death.
A world without sin.

Jesus in the gospels likewise promises such a day. He called it the Kingdom of God, where righteousness, justice and love rules over all. Where there are no hungry, because all are fed, nor homeless, because all are housed. No sickness, suffering, or death. It’s a powerful, evocative vision.

And one that Paul declares as awaiting us. That this is our future. A good world without end, where the pains and sufferings of this one is but a distant memory, if remembered at all.

This is a hope we need to hold on to, not because it is ‘just a nice thought’ but because this is a tangible, physical thing that will happen one day. One day all of our suffering, all of our pain, all loss and hurt and sorrow…all of that will be set right. This is a hope, as Christians, we need to hold onto; God is good, and He fulfils the promises He makes.

So how does our current hardships compare to this glorious day to come? Quite simply, they don’t, and that is a joyous thing! So for those of you suffering who might be reading this, remember this promise and hold onto it, because this truth shows there’s light at the end of the tunnel; suffering isn’t always going to be the norm. And I pray that we live our lives with this in mind; sure, our lives at the moment hurt, but its nothing compared to the joy that is awaiting us on that glorious, wondrous, blessed day, when all that is wrong will be set right, and Jesus Himself will wipe away every tear and wash away every hurt and say, “Welcome home, dear and faithful servant.”

May this hope – this promise – in what is to come encourage and guide you in the coming days, weeks, months and lifetimes.

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About trevfrancis

It always seems an odd position to be in; how do you distill yourself into a mere box? The short is, you can't, but I will give it a good go all the same; 23 years I've been on this earth, and 9 of them as a Christian. Books and learning are a passion of mine, as is spending time in good company. The pub is my preferred place for study, and all the wonderful insights I find there from people who I see eye to eye with, even if we agree on precious little. True friends are synonymous with family to me, and I love my family very much. Love walking to clear my head, will walk for miles upon miles if I could. At the end of the day, the best I can think of to sum me up is a pilgrim, far from home, seeking to understand the world he's passing through, and the God behind it all.
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