December ’21: The Unseen, Everlasting, Living Hope
By Emma Li
In a world as turbulent, challenging, and far from God as ours, one cannot help but notice all the temporary ways we as humans try to find hope in the midst of circumstances or hardship. Hope is, after all, what many understand as the motivation behind life. What makes life meaningful? To name a few: joy, love, peace, comfort. And so with these aspects in mind, hope is the driving force; it is like jet fuel for humans, keeping us moving forward in expectation for a better and brighter potential. In our own lives, we can see how the things that motivate us and propel us into action also perform as our sources of hope. Maybe it is hope in the next payroll. Hope in the next election. Hope in the New Year. Hope in the next semester of school. Hope to buy a house and settle down. Hope in the next romantic relationship.
It is certain that you have spent time in your life investing yourself in some of these false senses of security, as a means of finding hope. However, the apostle Paul notes how all these strategies we use will never be sufficient for our lives. He writes in 2 Corinthians:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18
According to Paul, what is “seen” is the same as all the material possessions and goals we make for ourselves, in order to preserve hope. The things listed above are of this world. In other words, they deteriorate, fail, and simply do not last. Therefore, when we see hope through a worldly lens, we receive worldly results. That is– we are left feeling just as broken, disappointed, and let down. Our problems do not perish, as we wish they would. Joy seems so far away, and the things we put our hope in proves a failure in our complicated, ever changing lives. How often in our own lives do we ask God for fixture in this situation or that, in hopes that it will take away the greatest of our problems? Instead, what would it look like to ask God for a living and confident hope to help us navigate life’s greatest circumstances?
Our confidence in these hopes is almost comical through the eyes of God, who has not only fulfilled but reconciled a perfect and complete hope through Jesus Christ.
So often when we speak of hope, it suggests the anticipation for something. It foretells the promise of something good and worthwhile that is yet to come. But when we as believers speak of hope, we refer to a hope that is multidimensional in nature. We believe in a hope that is more than what our futures hold, but something that our past and present hold as well. In our pasts, we discover that our failures and sins did not stop God from extending overwhelming grace. In our present, we know that we are not alone, but loved, chosen, and given purpose. In our futures, we will be redeemed as we eagerly await Jesus’ second coming.
Our hope is not dependent on a desire that may or may not be fulfilled. No, our hope is certain and made perfect through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 1 Peter chapter 1 says:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:3-9
Brothers and sisters, let us seek a hope that can never perish, spoil, or fade. Let us seek a hope that has been fulfilled even before we came to be in this world. For this hope we have is living through Jesus, and it has the power to transform our hearts, minds, and actions every morning when we rise. Although life may continue to bring about pain, stress, and suffering, our hope in Jesus cannot be threatened when we seek it out and ask for it boldly. Indeed, our hope is known to build character, and to produce joy and peace unlike anything we can experience of this world.