When Hope Is All You Have

The Apostle’s Creed pounds home God’s divine nature and his plan for the redemption of man point by point, and then culminates in this ethereal, sweeping gaze to the future. I think the authors intended it that way to remind us never to be so caught up in the past or here and now that we forget what lies ahead.

The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. I can look forward to these things only after grounding myself in the Gospel and reminding myself of truth upon truth; after examining where I put my hope and scrutinizing my construct of God and his church. Who I am in Christ ignites my hope for the future.

How many years did I long for a “story” of conversion, wishing for my salvation to become real and true and deep? I tell you what gives you a story: living. Live long enough and everyone has a beautiful tragedy to tell.

And now it feels like I share a little piece of my story every single week by processing and writing through each message. But that’s really the essence of this gospel-centered life: take each blow and every triumph and paint them over again with God’s grace, through Christ. Forget what lies behind and lean in towards what waits ahead.

Not the kind of forgetting that never calls it to mind again. I fervently wish that for some memories and choices I have made. But instead, this remembering counts it all under the blood of Christ so that dark shadows of shame and worry can no longer dominate my thoughts or haunt my dreams with angst and regret.

And not the kind of striving forward that I often labor for in pursuit. That relying on my own competence and willpower to make myself better and worthy leaves me so disillusioned and broken down. The impossibility overwhelms me. But this true striving is one of radiant hope and ever-present peace and joy.

As Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own… I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12,14) The upward call; citizenship in heaven.

How easily I fall prey to the cares of this moment and the next! How much effort and worry I spend on things that bloom and loom today but wither or blow over in an instant!

But hope gives proper perspective.

Right now, my car is broken. Looks like my lawn irrigation leak is back. Job stress is through the roof, and one of my best friends is struggling with an anxiety I know all too well. But I can’t fixate on my lack of control. I continue to move forward, looking upward. God help me. Is this what faith feels like? I wouldn’t really call it resignation or acquiescence, but a shifting of focus; resetting, resolving. I need to lay down the things I can’t carry anyway.

Hope. Rejoice. Why? The Lord is at hand. Pray. Give thanks. The most important work has already been done; the redemption of our souls. I can rest secure in this regardless of the buffeting storms. I can’t let unfulfilled expectations and daily disappointments blossom into bitterness in my heart.

He is still good even when I don’t understand. The peace of God transcends my understanding. That doesn’t make it any less real. I pray because Jesus prayed. And I ask his will to be done, not my own. Sometimes it feels like the worst thing in the world because I can’t see how it can ever be good or make sense to my limited viewpoint. Those awful, hard times break my heart, but they are good because he is good. He is the only thing I can hope in; not jobs, not answered prayers, not people. Just his sovereignty and goodness.

Hope – that translucent, resilient thing – springs from roots in Christ alone, pointing to a future of resurrection and life eternal with the creator, sustainer, and lover of our souls.

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