Many years ago I worked in a retirement community. I was the one who organized the services that the residents needed as they grew older. It was my responsibility to make sure that they were happy, safe and getting the care that they deserved. Many times the service that they needed would be hospice. Hospice, if you do not know, is a service that provides care for those who are getting ready to leave this earth. They provide physical as well as spiritual help for the dying and the family members.
One of the things that I observed was the differences in how each family dealt with the loss of their loved ones. Those who were Christians dealt with their loved ones passing with a peace that surpassed understanding. There were at times almost a joyful feeling that surrounded them because they had faith, they had a hope that their loved one was in the presence of Jesus. However, for those who were not believers, there was more of a darkness that surrounded the families. There was a sorrow that filled their beings that could be described as nothing more than hopelessness. The one thing that they needed most at that moment was the one thing they did not have- the hope of something greater after this life is over; the blessed hope of eternal life.
Hope is an earnest expectation of something that is to come. You cannot see the thing in which you hope for, but you have a confident faith that it will come, therefore, you hope for it. As Christians we are encouraged to hope in the Lord. We are encouraged to hope in the coming of His glory and to hope in the promise of eternal life. We have a lot to hope for as Christians. We have a hope of an eternal home. No matter the trials and tribulations that surround us, no matter the heart ache and disappointment that we may face, one thing we can be confident in is the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also 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 (NKJV)
Paul reminds us that we have been justified by faith and we have a peace with God through Jesus Christ. As I was mentioning above, during those times of sorrow and loss with the unbelieving family, there was a hopelessness that surrounded them. Because they had nothing to hope in, their sadness was turned into sorrow, which led to hopelessness and for some, darkness. They saw no hope for their loved ones because they had nothing to hope for. I remember one time in particular, after a resident passed away, that I talked to the Lord about the hopelessness that I saw in the family. I tried to reach out to them and show them His love, but they only saw sorrow and grief. They could not reach for the hope that He was extending to them. I prayed for them, and asked Him to help me understand. He led me to Psalm 23.
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1
He had me look down at my shadow and showed me how at that moment in time it was behind me because I was facing the sun. But if I had my back to the sun my shadow would be in front of me. It is the same with those who do not know Him, nor have the hope of eternal glory with Him. They are walking away from the Son; therefore the shadow of death is before them, looming over them and staring them down. But us, as Christians, we are walking toward the Son, and the shadow of death is behind us. We have been justified by faith and we are no longer at war with God, but we are now at peace, and in this we have a blessed hope that cannot be shaken. We cling to that same hope when life begins to toss us to and fro upon its waves. When the shadow of death and despair start to loom over us all we have to do is look in hope to the Son, to the One who paid the price for us all.
Paul also tells us that this hope that we have gives us the strength to glory in our tribulations. James reminds us that we can “count it all joy” (James 1:2) when we find ourselves in various tribulations because He is working in us and through us a greater hope and glory than anything we can ever experience here on this earth. Our hope in God is never a wasted hope, it is a joyous hope that leads us through tribulations, because our hope is not based on what we see, but is based on what we do not see. Our hope is not in the things of this earth, but in the promises of God. We do not look to the earthly for our peace, but we look to the heavenly, and in that hope we can stand and rejoice no matter what comes our way.
I have lost a beloved aunt today; I just received the call this morning. My Aunt Gertie was a lover of Jesus. She loved us with a godly love, and she was special to everyone who met her. She was full of joy and laughter. She was full of Jesus, and she too was full of the blessed hope of a life much greater than this one. She had the eternal hope of glory. She will be greatly missed, but I have hope that one day I will see her again. I have a blessed hope. I never thought that when I was asked to write on hope that the next day I would get the call that I received this morning about my Aunt. But I was strengthened because God had given me hope. He had given me hope that no matter what happened, no matter what tribulation I was going to face, there was always hope. The hope that we have in Jesus Christ will never disappoint us, let us down or forsake us. If we plant our hope in Him, we will never be dismayed.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters; which spreads out its root by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)
If you are feeling hopeless, look to the Son today, look and see the glorious hope that we have in Him. Let God shed His love for you abroad in your hearts and be strengthened because of the eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ. I pray the Lord God fill you with hope in His salvation which we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord. To Him alone be all the glory, honor and power, forever and ever, Amen and Amen.