I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope….Put your hope in the Lord, for with Him is unfailing love and full redemption. God Himself will redeem us from all our sins. (Psalm 130:5-8)
Jesus’ followers navigate through God’s world through Christ-centered thinking and attitudes. We must go through many hardships before we enter Heaven. But Christians are optimistic because the Lord has redeemed us, He has given us work to do for Him, and He is with us in all our endeavors. Optimism in Christ should drive how we plan and make decisions. We are living under God’s sovereign and providential hand, so we live in light of James 4:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.2
So we make our plans, submitting to Jesus’ kingly control. We’re optimistic, using the talents, gifts, skills, and opportunities God gives us to serve Him and other people. As we rest in the Lord’s over-ruling providence, we have a can-do attitude. God says in Proverbs: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans….Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.3
Here are more reasons for Christ-based hope from Scripture.
We Hope In God Because He Has Good Plans For Us
Scriptures: The Lord declares: I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future….Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare….The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.4
Comments: God has wonderful plans for His family of believers (His Church) and for each of us individually. In Jeremiah, He mentions “plans” three times to remind us that the Lord is plotting for our good. He plans for our holiness, joy, peace, and eternal security with Him. No one or nothing can frustrate His agenda, even when it seems to. We don’t know how or when God will work it out, but we know that He makes all things beautiful in His time. Our plans can fail, but we hope in the Lord because His good plans can’t be stopped or spoiled.
Cheer up, Christian! Things are not left to chance: no blind fate rules the world. God’s purposes are fulfilled. God’s wise plans can never be dislocated. (Pastor Charles Spurgeon)
Our future is as bright as the promises of God. (Missionary William Carey)
We Hope In God Because He is with Us in Hard Times
Scriptures: Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand….Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world….Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.5
Comments: Matthew 28 closes with Jesus’ Great Commission and He commands us to make disciples of all nations. To help others become Christ’s faithful followers all across the planet. Jesus also gives us His Great Promise, His Great Encouragement: I am with you always, to the very end of the age. The Lord gives us a colossal assignment. And believers for the past 2,000 years and now face dangerous obstacles, rejection, and persecution in that work. Sometimes we are isolated and lonely. Often we feel inadequate. But Christ’s promise, His presence, and His power make all the difference.
God is Now Here
An atheist and a Christian were engaged in an intense public debate. On the blackboard behind the podium, the atheist printed in large capital letters, “GOD IS NOWHERE.” When the Christian rose to offer a rebuttal, he rubbed out the W at the beginning of where and added that letter to the preceding word no. Then the statement read, “GOD IS NOW HERE.”6 That’s what the Bible teaches from beginning to end.
Let’s not think that the Lord is only up in Heaven, apart from being active on Earth. God wants us to seek Him, reach out for Him, and find Him, because He is not far from any one of us. For in God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) we live and move and have our being. We are His offspring.7 The Lord is involved in our story. He is part of our life, as nearby as God’s angel who wrestled all night with Jacob and changed him forever.8 God is involved and marvelously ever-present.9 Since His resurrection, Jesus has been on the loose and active in the world.
It’s good to know that the Lord is here, beloved. When our world is caving in, let’s be like wise little children. We may be crying, but we know who to run to. God has His arms wide open to us. We can’t physically run to Him, but we can:
Call on God in prayer; Tell Him what worries or upsets us; Ask for guidance and for His help to trust and obey Him; Meet with other Christ-followers and ask for their help; And choose to hang on to the Lord in faith until the disaster is past.10
Much of our unhappiness in life comes from listening to ourselves instead of talking to ourselves. So let’s turn that around and use Psalm 42:5:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Some of these thoughts adapted and expanded from Paul J. Dean, Jr. 2 James 4:13-16. 3 Proverbs 16:3; 19:21. 4 Jer 29:11; Psalm 40:5, 138:5. 5 Isaiah 41:10; John 16:33; Matt 28:20. 6 Story heard from Vernon Grounds. 7 Acts 17:27-28. 8 Gen 32:22-32; 35:1-15. 9 Psalm 46. 10 Psalm 18:3; 1 Peter 5:7; James 1:5; Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 57:1.