The joy of having hope


Many years ago, a 19 year old man named James was working at a chemical plant that had an explosion. This poor man was caught in the middle of it, and it caused him to lose his vision. His life was changed in an instant. He would no longer be able to see his wife’s face or the beauty of God’s creation. Like most people that have lost their vision, he hoped that he might be able to see again someday. After 28 years of living in the dark, James got some news that gave him a renewed hope of being able to see again. He found out he was a good candidate for a cornea transplant. Well, the procedure worked, and for the first time in 28 years he was able to see wife again. For the first time, he was able to see his children and his grandchildren, which caused him to cry tears of joy because his hope of seeing again was now a reality.


Hope gives us something to look forward to, and it motivates us to push forward. There are countless stories like that one about James that could be told where someone’s hope caused them to never give up on their dream. Many times our hope is rekindled when we see ourselves getting closer to achieving our goal or when we someone else achieves our goal. For example, when a cancer patient sees another cancer patient go into remission who is using the same treatment, it reignites his hope of going into remission as well.


While there are many things we can hope for and achieve in our lifetime, the greatest hope that brings the greatest joy is the hope found in Jesus (1 Pet. 1:3).


1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,


Being able to see again or being able to live another day is wonderful, but to have the hope of eternal life in heaven fulfilled will be far greater than any accomplishment we can make here on earth. Whatever hopes we fulfill in our lifetime will be temporary, but eternity in heaven will be forever.


The great news for faithful Christians is that the hope of heaven will become a reality as promised by Jesus (Rev. 2:10).


Revelation 2:10 Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.


We should find joy in knowing that heaven can be our eternal home if we seek the pathway of righteousness. However, those who choose to find hope elsewhere will discover that their hope will perish and their eternal home will be in hell.


Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish.


Job 8:13 And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,  14 Whose confidence shall be cut off, And whose trust is a spider's web.


Job 11:20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, And they shall not escape, And their hope -- loss of life!"


Paul teaches us that we have a choice. We do not have to live our lives without the hope of heaven. Notice what Paul says in:


Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands --  12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.


Before Jesus came, the Gentiles did not have hope. To have no hope beyond this life is sad indeed. However, there is nothing preventing us from having the hope and joy of eternal life in heaven because Jesus made it possible for all. The only thing keeping us from the joy of eternal hope is us. Far too many are like Felix, who put off embracing the hope of eternal life (Acts 24:24-25).


Acts 24:24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you."


As Christians, we can use our hope in Jesus as anchor.


Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,  20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.


When we consider what Jesus did for us and accomplished in His short life on the earth, it should cause us be overwhelmed with confidence because Jesus showed us that He has concurred death and has given us power over sin. He has become our High Priest who has entered “the Presence behind the veil,” which alludes to the Holy Holies in the temple where God’s glory resides. Unlike the High Priests of the Old Testament, Jesus just had to enter into the presence of God one time to make atonement for our sins. Since Jesus is our forerunner, it means that He has made it possible for us to follow Him and be in the presence of God as well. No wonder Paul tells us to rejoice in hope (Rom. 12:12).


I like the idea of our hope in Jesus being described as “anchor of the soul.” I envision one of those big anchors that Cruise Line Ships use because that is how solid our hope in Jesus should be. I also like how Peter describes Jesus to the Jewish council that arrested him:


Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  9 "If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,  10 "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  11 "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'  12 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."


The chief cornerstone is what holds together the walls and make it possible for the structure to stand firm. That is exactly what Jesus is to the church and to us as Christians. Without Him, there would be no church and there would be no hope of heaven. Though Peter clearly had complete confidence in the hope of eternal salvation as he spoke to the council, he did not have this confidence shortly before and after Jesus was put to death.


First, we find him denying that he knew Jesus three times (Mt. 26:69-75).


Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee."  70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying."  71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth."  72 But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"  73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you."  74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed.  75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly.


Second, we find him hiding behind closed doors with the other apostles (Jn. 20:19).


John 20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."


After Peter and the other apostles saw Jesus was raised from the dead and were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), their fears were erased. Nothing could keep them from acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God or keep them from proclaiming His message because having hope in Jesus makes us bold. As Paul wrote:


2 Corinthians 3:1Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech.


Jesus’ disciples could see the big picture. Yes, they put their life on the line by proclaiming the gospel, but they understood that it was worth it. Those who are willing put their faith, trust, and hope in Jesus will reap the eternal rewards of heaven. This eternal hope in Jesus should cause us to speak out for the Lord even if it means putting our life on the line. Notice how Peter encourages us in:


1 Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;  15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."  17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;  18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.


We must keep our minds focused on the goal of heaven and the eternal bliss we will experience. We must keep in mind that no matter what man does to our body, they cannot destroy our soul or keep us out of heaven (Mt. 10:28). We should view our hope of salvation as a protective helmet we put on (1 Thess. 5:8) that will protect us from the evil way.


Our hope in Jesus will continue to give us boldness to speak out for Him. For example, the apostles continued to be bold in the face of persecution. In Acts 5, the apostles were still preaching Jesus and healing those brought to them, which caught the attention of the opposing Jews. The opposing Jews, had the apostles arrested, but an angel from God came a let them out of jail. The angle told them to “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).


If these apostles had any doubt of their hope in Jesus, do you think they would listen to this angel? I do not think they would. Since they believed and had no doubts, they followed the instructions of the angel. Once again, their hope caused them to have no fear of what the opposing Jews might do to them, and we find them courageously speaking in the temple about Jesus.  


Once again, a frustrated Jewish council questions the apostles for teaching about Jesus after they told them not to. Boldly, the apostles reply, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Their hope in Jesus caused them remain bold for the cause of Christ, and hope in Jesus will motivate us to do the same. After much discussion, the Jewish council had the apostles beaten for their boldness and commanded them not preach the message of Jesus anymore. They were hoping to beat the hope out them, but it had the opposite effect.


Acts 5:41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.  42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. 


Not only did hope motivate them to remain bold and to continue preaching Jesus, it made them rejoice to have suffered for the cause of Christ. Of course, no one enjoys the suffering itself, but when our suffering comes from standing up for God’s truth it is worth it because we know we are pleasing God, which should bring joy to our heart.


Hope in Jesus will also motivate us to push forward and not be sluggish in living for God.


Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,  12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 


Paul tells us that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). So, we should never grow weary of doing good because we have a reward in heaven waiting for us (Gal. 6:9).


Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.


It should bring us great joy to do good works that glorify our Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16). It is least we can do after everything God has done for us through Jesus so we can have the hope of salvation.  


If we ever find ourselves becoming sluggish, we need remind ourselves of what God has done for us. It was also help us to look at our fellow brethren and be inspired by their diligence to serve the Lord. I find it encouraging when I see the passion of other Christians who seem to never waiver in the joy of serving the Lord.


Even if we find ourselves surrounded by sluggish Christians, we can always go to God’s Word and read about the faithful servants of God. It does not matter whether we study the faithfulness of those in the New Testament or Old Testament (Rom. 15:4), they will encourage us not to be sluggish in our Christianity.


There are at least three things that stand out that should help us to see the joy in hope. First, when we think about how much God loved us and what Jesus was willing to do for us so we could have the hope of eternal life in heaven, should cause to be full of joy.

Second, when we consider that one day we will get to be with those faithful loved ones that have departed and be able to be around those faithful men and women we have read about for years should cause to joyful as well.

Third, knowing that we will get to be in presence of God and be able to see what heaven really looks likes should always bring a smile to our face and joy to heart.


Knowing that our hope in Jesus will cause all these things and more to be reality should be more than enough for see the joy and hope and give us the motivation we need to press on to our goal of making it to heaven no matter what life throw at us.