10 Reasons to Hope (When All Seems Hopeless)
FROM David Murray Feb 04, 2013 Category: Articles @ ligonier.org
When discouraging and depressing news threatens to flood the nation, the church, and the soul, we need God’s help to lift up our heads, hearts, and hands. Posts like this encourage us not to fear. But once fear is cast out, we then have to build positive Christian hope in its place, a beautiful virtue and life-transforming grace that yields multiple benefits:
1. Hope moves us forwards: Christian hope is a realistic expectation of and joyful longing for future good and glory based upon the reliable word of God. The more we long for the future, the less we will yearn for the past. Hope deletes regrets and underlines expectation. It diminishes drag and increases momentum.
2. Hope energizes the present: It is worth living today because the eternal tomorrow is so much brighter. What’s doomsday for most, is coronation day for us. What most dread, we desire.
3. Hope lightens our darkness: Hope does not deny nor remove the reality of dark and painful providences. However it does shine a bright light into these valleys and points to the sunrise at the end of them.
4. Hope increases faith: Faith fuels hope, but hope also fuels faith. As Hebrews 11 makes very clear, hope and faith are very closely tied together, the one enlivening the other. Without faith we cannot soar in hope, but without hope faith will limp home. The greatest believers are the greatest hopers…and vice versa.
5. Hope is infectious: Just as we can drag others down by our recriminations and moping, so we can inspire and motivate through our inspiring hoping. It not only encourages other sagging Christians but it also impacts depressed unbelievers who cannot but ask a reason for the hope they see in us (1 Pet. 3:15).
6. Hope is healing: When I counsel depressed people, one of the first things I do is try to give them hope. By definition, depression is a sense of hopelessness. Things cannot and will not get better. That’s why I want to give them the hope that in the vast majority of cases, they will get better, there is a way out, and there are things that they can do to help themselves in their felt helplessness. That hope itself is a huge step towards healing.
7. Hope is practical: Hope does not mean we just sit and wait for Utopia to appear. Not at all! Hope motivates action. When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for the conversion of our children, we are motivated to share the Gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more avidly. Hope produces action.
8. Hope purifies: Whatever persecution we experience in this world, the day is coming when we will not be just called sons of God, we will be like the Son of God. This is what inspires and motivates the apostle to persevere to the end and to persevere in holiness. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
9. Hope stabilizes in the storm: There are sixty-six drawings of anchors in the catacombs, the caves and tunnels that persecuted Christians hid in during the Roman persecutions. Hope was their anchor during those dark and stormy days (Heb. 6:19; 10:34). Like the anchor, hope grabs what is out of sight. As one puritan put it: “The cable of faith casts out the anchor of hope and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises.”
10. Hope defends: Paul also depicts hope as a defensive helmet (Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8) that must not be taken off and laid aside until the battle is over. The helmet also points us to the area of greatest vulnerability and danger – our mind or thoughts. That’s where Satan usually works to present reasons to doubt and despair. And that’s why we need our minds daily renewed by the power of hope.