As I’m sure you’ve probably discovered already, this website is called Search for hope. I wanted to consider what this hope is actually all about. A problem with this is that the word ‘hope’ has two distinctive meanings in English. The first is a wish for something to happen, such as winning the lottery (45 million-to-one chance, anyone?). The second meaning is a confidence or trust that something will actually happen.
When the Bible talks about hope, it is talking about this second definition, a genuine confidence rather than a vain hope. We believe that God has a plan and purpose with the earth, to set up a Kingdom with Jesus as King ruling over the whole earth. As part of that, we believe that all those who throughout the ages have put their trust in him will be resurrected to live for ever in a totally transformed world.
Hope from hopelessness
Despite the confidence which we’re told we can have in this wonderful future, things can so often seem hopeless right now. Around the world through the modern media we can readily hear about terrible wars, natural disasters & humanitarian crises.
Closer to home, we so often see the problems of inequality, violence & poor health. The governments and influential people of the world have varying successes in making people’s lives better, but ultimately the effects of human nature affect us all in the end.
It is from desperate circumstances that we often find our eyes drawn more towards heaven as human solutions falter. It was from such a hopeless situation that the writer of the Old Testament book of Lamentations acted. He documented a time in Israel’s history when they had been taken from the land promised to them by God and were instead left in captivity in Babylon.
The vast majority of the 5 chapters of the book are very depressing, and I don’t want to spend any time here dealing with it now other than to say that I suppose the writing and reading of it would have been an act of catharsis for the Jews at that time, and indeed can be for us too.
When we go to the middle of the book, however, we find a very different message. We can read some beautiful words which were intended to help lift them (and by extension, also us) from the depths of despair.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3.19-26
Be part of this hope
To be in such dire straits and still acknowledge that God constantly shows us mercy is not an easy thing, yet developing a faith in his plan and purpose enables us to do just this. Being a part of a community of believers enables us to share both the burdens of suffering and the good times we are blessed with as well. A true community of Christian believers is in effect as close as we can currently get to being in the Kingdom of God.
We can represent this hope to someone in a hopeless situation. It is to this community that God still calls people to discover him and his saviour son Jesus.
The Bible invites everyone to search for this hope, not just because of the hope of something better beyond our current life, but to experience his love right now as part of a community of faithful believers.