During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Hope is a ‘Now’ Thing
Many view Christian hope as “pie in the sky when you die.” (Joe Hill, “The Preacher and the Slave”) It does nothing for you now. It’s disconnected from today’s problems. It’s useless for this life. It holds value only for you later – if it’s real.
But true hope doesn’t work that way. Christian hope is a present power that comes from having a glorious future.
On the one hand, our hope is right now “laid up in heaven.” (Colossians 1:6) Hope is a Person named Jesus Christ. He has a wonderful inheritance reserved in heaven for us. Our hope is as real as Jesus Himself who died for us, rose for us, and is now reigning on heaven’s throne for us.
That hope is there already now, waiting for us. It is untouched by the problems and pains of this world. It can’t lose its beauty or value. It can’t “perish, spoil or fade away.“ (I Peter 1:4)
At the same time, hope in the Bible is something that lives not only above us in heaven, but also in us. “May you abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) The hope that lives in us comes from trusting in and looking up to the Hope that lives in heaven.
This hope we have as Christian believers is not only something that makes a difference in our lives when we die. Hope in Jesus is a present hope that powerfully helps us right now.
In his book, Coronavirus and Christ (Crossway Books: 2020), John Piper describes the power that Christian hope gives to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.
Hope is power. Present power. Hope keeps people from killing themselves—now. It helps people get out of bed and go to work—now. It gives meaning to daily life, even locked-down, quarantined, stay-at-home life—now. It liberates us from the selfishness of fear and greed—now. It empowers love and risk-taking and sacrifice—now.
So be careful before you belittle the by-and-by. It just may be that when your by-and-by is beautiful and sure, your here and now will be sweet and fruitful. (pp. 15-16)John Piper
The “sweet by and by” is not “pie in the sky;” it is power for living day-by-day. It makes a difference every moment as we face the struggles of sickness and poverty, of marriage and raising children, of sin and temptation.
It doesn’t make us immune to the problems but gives us strength to travel through them.
So let this hope go to work for you during these times. Let me offer 4 ways hope is a ‘now’ thing:
- It brings joy now. Paul says: In the midst of suffering “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2) Hope provides proper perspective on our suffering. Hope says, “This suffering is not all there is. It will not have the last word. It is light and momentary compared to the weight of glory that’s coming.” (see 2 Corinthians 4:17)
- Hope gives patience now. In the Bible, hoping and waiting go together. Psalm 130 says: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5; see also Psalms 33:20-22, 62:5) In hope you trust that the Lord is using this trouble to advance you and all His people to their heavenly goal. So rather than lose heart and do rash things that dishonor God and trample on other people, hope helps you take God’s hand and walk with Him through trouble as His faithful follower.
- Hope gives freedom now to serve the Lord. Because our hope is not set on this life in this world, it sets us free from our love affair with earthly wealth and amusements. We are free to live and die for Jesus. Hope frees us to work in the hospital or nursing home, to give generously to mission and charity. It frees us to work through the problems rather than try to escape them. Hope sets us free to love God and our neighbour because it frees us from self-love.
- Hope purifies us now. The Bible says that because we eagerly wait for Jesus to return and make us perfect and bring us to our perfect eternal home with Him, this hope purifies us as Jesus is pure. (I John 3:3) Because perfect holiness is hope’s goal, it is also hope’s desire now as we get ready for that day. In every trouble we face, hope prays and strives for holiness.
Hope is a ‘now’ thing. In this current crisis, dear Christian, may you abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) May the Spirit use your hope to work joy, patience, freedom, and holiness in you right now so that you may become more like Jesus Christ.