Rejoicing in Hope
What does the world need right now? Hope. Webster defines hope as "a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it." He goes on and draws the distinctions between hope, wish, and desire. "Wishes and desires may still produce pain and anxiety, whereas hope gives pleasure and joy."
What is the basis for the world's hope? When they stretch their eyes to the distance, what do they envision that causes joy? An end to all wars, diseases, poverty, starvation, and inequality? Is it hope? Or just a wish and desire? What is the basis for that hope? Government? Education? Technology? Or is it someone they believe will be a catch-all and end-all, the ultimate super-it? (can't use gender pronouns)? After thousands of years of man's history, all of these pursuits have failed miserably and only added to the pain and suffering in the world.
What is the Christian's hope? Thank God our hope isn't in Super-It. Seriously, what is the believer's hope? What is the cause for the heart of the child of God to rejoice? His tongue to express that joy? And for the soul to rest in hope?
On May 23, 1939, the submarine Squalus, a five-million-dollar vessel, sank off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The famed McCann rescue bell was used for the first time. Through this bell-shaped valve, men were able to reach and to rescue the thirty-three men trapped inside. When the rescue squad reached the stricken submarine, they tapped with metal on the hull in an effort to locate the sailors. The imprisoned men, answering in similar fashion, asked in the language of the Morse code, "Is there any hope?"
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity...
One preacher said, "Faith is that which lays hold of God's promises; hope is that spiritual grace which sustains the heart until the promise is received."
Without hope, people give up.
There is a fuel required for faith to be sustained and found burning when Christ returns. That fuel is defined as hope. But what is it? We'll look at that clear and distinct answer in a moment. What we are saying is that this biblical definition for hope in the New Testament is specific for only one purpose. It isn't anticipating a world-wide revival. Nor is it expecting and end to this cold and flu season. It is hope in one thing and one thing only, and if your hope isn't in this one thing, then your faith will run out of fuel.
In the parable of the Ten Virgins (found in Matthew 25:1-13), Jesus tells of how five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish. The foolish took their lamps but had no oil for them. The wise took oil in their lamps. The shout came at midnight. "The bridegroom is here!" The foolish ha da problem. They didn't have fuel to burn in the lamps to light the way to the marriage. The wise had oil in their lamps and went to the wedding. The foolish were not permitted to enter because the door had shut, and the opportunity was gone for good. Hope was lost.
That oil fueled the lamps until the return of the bridegroom. Hope burned in the hearts of those wise virgins while they waited for the groom.
Hope for the return of Christ is the spiritual grace that sustains the heart while waiting for the promise. Paul called it,
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
The child of God can rejoice in the heart because he knows all of his trials will have its end when Christ returns. He can tell others about Christ returning because he just doesn't parrot it, but it captures his heart, and he can't help but tell others. If your hope in Christ's return doesn't cause you to say to others, "Get ready!" then you're fooling yourself. Get some oil in your lamp!
While the world around us is gasping for hope, let's give it to them. Hope has a name, and that name is Jesus. Like those submariners, souls are stranded at the bottom of the ocean and are running out of oxygen. They are asking, "Is there hope?"
Until that last breath, there is. Once eternity is entered without Christ, all hope will be lost. That is why Dante said in his book, Inferno, pictured this sign engraved above Hell's gates, "Abandon every hope, you who enter."