Overcoming Hindrances To Our Hope
In all of the blessings given to the child of God, the longing and desire for the promised reward is cherished as one of the highest ideals of life. The nature of the reward is not material or earthly as will corrupt or where thieves may break in and steal. The reward given by God is the heart directed toward the treasures in heaven. The desire and expectation of this reward is hope.
The feelings of hope are founded upon a promise made by God to bless the faithful with eternal salvation. From hearts motivated from God's love, life is filled with a daily expectation of a blessed hope in the glorious appearing of Christ. Hope is the vehicle that takes our lives beyond the here and now and reaches to a world so beautiful and powerful, the human mind can only grasp a fraction of its truth.
The Bible speaks often of the hope of the Christian. Paul writes in Romans 5:1-2, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
Hope brings rejoicing in the knowledge of our salvation and the desire for eternal salvation. Hope saves us (Romans 8:24) and fills us with joy and peace (Romans 15:13). The Hebrew writer encourages his readers in Hebrews 6:18-19, "that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil." Knowing the power of hope in our lives is more than believing that we have hope. The power of hope is the reality of what it will do to our lives when we fully understand the hope we have.
Satan has no desire for children of God to give much thought to hope and fills our lives with those things that take our minds off the real hope we have in Christ. We may say we have hope and believe in the hope of eternal salvation but fail to activate the power of hope in our lives.
A hindrance to our understanding of hope to fully grasp the idea of eternity. The hope of the Christian is for "eternal" salvation. It is difficult for many of us to think of things without time. Everything we do is based upon minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. Our lives are devoted to planning and executing our plans based upon a time frame. Life is based upon what will I do when I get married or what will I do when kids come along. Then we look at what will happen when the kids are grown and leave home. Our lives are measured by our jobs and how long we have been working for the company and what to do when we retire. The week is based upon how many days I spend working or going to school or filling the days with recreation. Time is the measuring stick of our lives. When we stop to consider eternity, we can't do it. This difficulty begins to dim the real power of hope because we think of everything in matters of man's existence. Hope is the desire and expectation that time will cease to exist so that we may enjoy the blessings of God - without end. John told his readers in Revelation 21:4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." There will be no more time as we know it. Death will not occur over time nor reasons to cry will happen. Time will be no more. The body will not age and children will not be born. Suffering will have ended as time has come to an end. Eternity is without end and the wonderful hope of the Christian is to live in a world of blessing that has no end. Life is eternal not temporary. The inheritance of eternal life is "incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:4)
The reality of life is a hindrance to hope. Our daily activities keep our minds upon this world and can hinder our desire for eternal salvation. The daily burdens of life can weigh the heart down with cares and troubles that take our minds off of heaven. Hope is based upon the knowledge that God has prepared a better place for us. The faith of Abraham is seen in his desire to attain "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10) He was able to look beyond life and to see a world that had been promised to him by God. To do this, he had to take stock in the world of his day and compare with the promise of God. He knew that no matter what could be attained in this life, nothing could measure up to what God had prepared for him in that city. Why was Moses so filled with faith and devotion to the Lord? Why did he choose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin? Moses knew that sin was only a passing thing and that great wealth was all vanity. The Hebrew writer said of Moses: "esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible." (11:26,27)
A hindrance to hope is to rely too much upon the world in which we live. The Christian will find the power of hope when the realization of what life will be like AFTER death is taken into account. Our hope is not what we see here and what we know here. Our hope is the full expectation of a life beyond death. If someone would ask you, "What do you want out of life?', what would be the reply? We know that many things task our lives in regard to the family, jobs, school and life in general. There are many things we seek to attain as we get older. We are burdened with disease, pain, sorrow and difficulties in life that can wear us down and discourages us. Herman Melville wrote in his book, 'Moby Dick': "In this vale of Death, God girds us round; and over our gloom the sun of Righteousness still shines a beacon and a hope. If we bend down our eyes, the dark vale shows her mouldy soil; but if we lift them, the bright sun meets our glance half way, to cheer." Death is what many fear and yet for the Christian it is a birth. The passing of this life is the entrance into a world that is promised by God to be beyond comprehension in its beauty, grandeur and majesty. When we keep our eyes upon this world, all we can see is the "muddy soil." With hope, we lift our eyes upward to a world that is so much better than this world. The hope that is buried in the heart of the Christian is the blessing of death, to rise at the dawn of a new day in the presence of the Almighty. To face death bravely is a brave thing but to face death in hope is a Christian thing. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." (Revelation 14:13) What greater ideal can be found for the child of God to know that in death the journey to the throne of God begins? Peter describes this hope as a "living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)
Hope that is borne in the life of the Christian is not a dead hope of material gain but a hope that is alive and living in the heart and soul of God's children. Hope takes away the pain of this world and longs for the joy of heaven so that the voice can cry out, "Even so, come. Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)
The hope of the world is found in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of mankind. Eternal salvation is what is desired by those who come to Christ and obey His will. The power of hope continues to live on in the life of the Christian as the realization of salvation becomes even more present.
A hindrance to hope is the failure to realize what salvation means. The "hope of salvation" is the helmet that soldiers of Christ adorn themselves with. (1 Thessalonians 5:8) Our hope is the knowledge that salvation is in contrast to damnation. Many believe they are good people who will be saved by their merits of goodness. Others believe that as long as they give some outward evidence of living for Christ, they can attain heaven. The hope of salvation is the knowledge that Christ died for our sins and that without His sacrifice, we would not have any hope at all. Paul comforted the saints in Thessalonica when he described the coming of the Lord and the knowledge that children of God will "meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) Those who do not believe in Christ have sorrow for they have not hope! (v13)
A man adrift on the ocean realizes three things. First, time is more important than anything. He may reflect upon wasted time with family or wasted times in his life. He also knows that time is short and that without rescue in a certain period of time, he will die. Time takes on new meaning. Second, life is more important. All the wealth or fame or pleasures of life would be gladly traded for rescue. The expression is used in times like this - "life flashed before the eyes." Life is put in its proper perspective and dying takes on new meaning. Third, the need for salvation is very apparent. Time has taken on a new urgency and life is only about the realization of being saved. He knows he is lost and must depend upon another to save him.
The Christian's hope is allowing for time to prepare one for eternity, death to be a blessing of a new birth and salvation the reward of an eternal life with God!
By Kent E. Heaton Sr.
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