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The Confidence of Hope

May 26, 2011

Hope is a funny thing.  We spend a lot of time hoping.  We hope in things temporary:  Relationship.  Reconciliation.  Relief from pain and heartache.  We hope that somehow all things will be made right.  We cling to it.  And we don’t spend our time hoping for the things of Christ.

There is a longing in our hearts that will not be fulfilled until Christ returns and we are reconciled to him.  We search all over the place for something that will fill/take care of that longing.  But there is nothing.  The relief is only temporary, even that which stems from the feeling generated by genuine relationship here on earth.  These relationships will last, but they are not perfect.  They will not fill that void.  They are merely echoes of the reality of Christ’s perfect knowing of our souls.

N.T. Wright says this in the introduction to his book Surprised by Hope: “Most people, in my experience – including many Christians – don’t know what the ultimate Christian hope really is.  Most people – again, sadly, including many Christians – don’t expect Christians to have much to say about hope within the present world.  Most people don’t imagine that these two could have anything to do with each other.”

You see, the world’s definition of hope is missing a pretty crucial ingredient: faith.  As Christians, ours is not an idle hope.  It is not a lofty goal or wishful thought.  The oft-quoted author of Hebrews says this in chapter 11, verse 1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Assurance, then, leads to confidence.  Again, we are not merely hoping for life events to proceed favorably for us.  We are confident that, despite the affairs of this world, our hope will be fulfilled.

But what is it we are hoping for?  What is the object of our confidence?  N.T. Wright – “Easter was when hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.”  He continues, “Hope, for the Christian, is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism.  It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are not shut down, new creation can happen.”

Trials will come.  Chaos is certain.  Death is guaranteed.  But our hope is not in vain, because our hope is not for respite from these things.  Our hope is in Christ, and Christ alone.  There is no question about his love or faithfulness.  We need not worry whether or not he will keep his promises.  The world will be made right again, and all things reconciled to He who created it.

Hope, it would seem, isn’t so funny after all…

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