Hope in a world of wishful thinking

Posted on December 31, 2013 by

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Calendar3Every year roughly 50% of adults in the United States make New Years resolutions, and by the end of the year around 90% of those resolutions have been given up on (I’d love to meet the 10% because I’m not sure who they are). Yet every January 1, the cycle begins all over again, and those of us who make resolutions come to the same sad place. The results of these failed resolutions are often guilt and self loathing. We feel weak and undisciplined, unable to make any meaningful life change on our own. So we either try harder and feel worse for the continued failure, or we give up and feel more guilt. A sad cycle.

I think our problem lies in the world’s definition of the word hope. In our society, hope is really wishful thinking. The hope we see in the Bible is an expectation of something we know will come to pass. It waits for something to happen because it knows it will. The hope of this world says, “I hope the weather is good tomorrow,” “I hope we have a good turnout,” or “I hope I do well on this test.” These are only wishes of things we want to happen.

Hebrews 6:17-19 says,
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.

Hope is something to take hold of, something that we can stand on, something that anchors us. An anchor means that in the midst of the storm you stay where you are supposed to be. It keeps you from drifting off. We have exchanged a life of hope for a life of wishes without realizing that empty wishes leave us on shifting sand.

What does hope look like?

Titus 2:11-14 (NASB)
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

First, our hope is in the grace of God, and that grace is Jesus Christ who has appeared and saved us from this mess we are in. And are we ever in a mess. Every year half of the population enters into biggest self help movement on the planet with the knowledge that in all likelihood it won’t work. We are continually unsatisfied with ourselves and our lives and long for more. But true grace instructs us to deny what we have been saved from, and to live to what He created us for.

Second, hope looks forward. Our waiting as Christians is not passive, it is active. If you are taking a test and know the time is running short, you will work to finish it within the time. We know from the words of Jesus Himself that He is coming back, and we are exhorted to prepare ourselves, to be ready. Hope gets ready for what is coming with a rich anticipation of the wonderful promise of a savior. Think about some of the words used to describe Jesus; savior, rescuer, redeemer.  That sure seems to imply that we need a lot of help, and sure gives us something wonderful to live in and even more to look forward to.  Hope perseveres through challenges, but if we don’t know that something better is coming, we settle for what we have now. Real hope is alive. Wishful thinking is dead.

In the end, the real problem with our resolutions is that they are all about us. Who are you really trying to lose weight or get in shape for anyway? Usually we make these resolutions so that we can feel better about ourselves and the way we look.

So as we go into a new year, instead of resolving to do things that will make us feel better about ourselves, how can we prepare and train ourselves for the work He has given us here and for His eventual coming. What would it mean for you to, “look for the blessed hope,” or, “take hold of the hope set before you.” How will your soul be anchored in Christ this year?

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