Real Hope-Part One

Real Hope-Part One

1208573_69660271Most human beings are fascinated with the future. We read our daily horoscope, fantasize about time travel, and often catch ourselves pondering what tomorrow or the next day may hold. If we are honest with ourselves, almost all people are filled with a mix of fear and hope for the future.

Hope is an interesting idea. We popularly use the word hope to say things like, “I hope the weather is nice today,” or “I hope I win the lottery.” Using hope in this way amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking.

Others use the word hope to describe where they mentally go to escape the muck and mire of their frustrated lives. Men, women and children enter fantasy worlds that they hope will one day be the reality of daily living. Sports psychologists teach a technique called creative visualization in which athletes are trained to mentally meditate on making the right move. This is the sort of mind-over-matter thinking that many people describe as hope. Yet this version of hope is nothing more than pure fantasy.

When the Scriptures speak of hope, it means far more than wishful thinking or pure fantasy. Biblical hope is real because it is based on real future events. Biblical hope is a confident expectation of God’s future work on our behalf based on the reality of Christ’s work accomplished for us in the past. There is a firm confidence in the reality of what God has done for us and what He will do for us. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

For this reason, Christians think of hope in a very different way. Their ultimate hope is not found in something in this world like a relationship or a career, but Christians hope is lodged in another world. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis argues that all men possess this desire for heaven, though many do not recognize it or intentionally suppress it. Lewis says that when we have a deep longing for love, a vacation, a career, there is an initial sort of grasping for heaven that ultimately fades away and evades us. The best marriage, vacation, or career can’t continually fulfill that deep desire. Only heaven can.

Men deal with that lack of fulfillment in a couple of different ways. Lewis calls the first way, the Fool’s Way. This person blames their lack of fulfillment on the thing itself and therefore moves from one object to the next to fulfill the desire that has evaded him. This sort of man blames the woman for not satisfying him enough and so dumps her and finds another. Another man might blame his job for not satisfying his career desires and so dumps the job to find another. Ultimately, he is never satisfied.

The second type of man, Lewis calls the Disillusioned Sensible Man. This is the experienced person who has learned from experience not to expect too much from life. He has tried to find satisfaction only to be continually disappointed. He scoffs at the young person who expects to find satisfaction and advises them not to hope too much.

The Christian, on the other hand, knows that his ultimate desire is met in another world. Lewis writes,

A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: water. Men feel sexual desire: sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.[1]

If you have ever longed for an existence beyond this life, wondered about eternity, or pondered the existence of God, you are expressing desires that are real and have a real corresponding satisfaction. But that satisfaction cannot be met by anything in this world. Those desires can only be satisfied in knowing the one true God who has revealed and offers Himself to you in the person of Jesus Christ.

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.120.

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