By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
As a new year has dawned, the sun rises to find this country and the world still struggling with the devastating effects of a pandemic. This month is the second anniversary of the advent of the coronavirus. Much fear and confusion have been spoken and written throughout these past two years. Only one thing remains the same: Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:3-10 to remind those who follow after God that there is only One who has the power to save—sovereign God Himself. Only One gives comfort through His eternal promises. Only One can offer hope for a lost and hopeless individual and world. God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and promises are found in One person—the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote in verses 9-10, “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, who rescued us from so great a danger of death, and will rescue us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us…”
In Christ, we have set our hope! By placing our faith in Christ, we have been given hope—an unshakable hope. Hope, of course, is usually defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Indeed, the feeling of hope arises every time we, who cannot see or know the future, fix our gaze upon something beyond ourselves out there in the future. Having done that often and continuously, and having experienced the squashing of hope over and over, humanity has so often found themselves giving in to despair or any number of the lies of the enemy of God. How often do we find ourselves not hoping at all? That’s exactly where the deceiver wants to take us! But in God, we place our hope!
As an action verb, “hope” is an expression of “wanting something good to happen;” namely our expressed and desired outcomes for the future. There is an anticipation, an expectation, and an optimistic want or desire placed upon that outcome for which we have hoped. Hope, it appears, is when we wish for something or the desired outcome.
But for a follower of Christ, hope is much more than just a wish or a feeling. In the Word of God, hope is a constant theme that is found. And it is expressed throughout the stories of difficulty or failure; desperation or despair. The Word of God teaches us the wonderful truth that hope is the invitation of a loving God. He reaches out to His broken, alienated, and lost creation and invites us to seek after Him. And when we seek after Him, we will find Him. God calls out to us and summons us to hope in Him! Our Savior and Redeemer plead for you to place your hope in Him. In other words, He asks you and me to diligently search for and seek after what we cannot see with human eyes. He is inviting us to hope or look by faith for His answer to sin; His offering of forgiveness; His gift of salvation, peace, joy, and comfort. And all of which we are seeking after and hoping for is found in Jesus.
Let me mention that both the Hebrew and Greek words for “hope” used in the Bible carry the deep meaning of “trust.” To hope is to trust! That’s not wishful thinking! That’s solid trust and belief in the One, true God; in His faithfulness and promises; and in His love and sovereignty. We may then say that when one has never trusted in the Lord, then that person has no real hope! But when one places their faith and trust in Christ, then we have hope. And so, any hope that you have for 2022 is really tied to your response as a believer to the promises of God! For, I “hope” you see, your hope and trust in Christ Jesus sets the stage for the remarkable outpouring of God’s Spirit.
Paul reminded his brothers and sisters in Christ that the Holy Spirit is the source of our hope, for His power causes hope to abound. He wrote in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Here is the good news for 2022—Our God is the God of hope! The truth is, while everything and everyone claims that designation for themselves, they cannot deliver! But God can and will accomplish and complete His promises—for He is eternal and His promises are unconditional! Faith and hope will allow you to see this and live this year in the blessed promises of eternal and loving God. May the God of all hope bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you and give you peace and joy.
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.
Read more from Dr. Hodges here.