"Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace
that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." --1 Peter 1:13
A dear old friend of mine used to always tell us, "Hope to the end, even if you do die in despair." It's not the most encouraging quote to pass on, but it is a good reminder that if we build our hopes on the things of this world our hopes may well prove fruitless in the end.
But there is a hope that maketh not ashamed, a hope that is steadfast and sure: an anchor for the soul. This hope is in Jesus Christ. Joel 3:16 says, "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
Sometimes it seems like winter never ends here in Iowa. Last year we had 6 inches of snow in early May. But this year the flowers are just starting to bloom and foliage is beginning to reappear. No matter how long winter lingers, sooner or later, spring always does come.
Although spring has warmed the earth this year, the world and the human race is still in the dead of winter. Hearts are frozen, hardened in sin, society is rotting, and moral standards seem to be the only thing breaking up like ice in a spring thaw. Should we be discouraged? No. Jesus will return to earth to reign. Sitting on the throne of judgment he will uproot all evil and illuminate the heavens and earth with his glory. Until He comes, we are His ambassadors, and we must be a light to the world.
When we have trouble, pain, and sorrow in our own lives we should not be discouraged. Often our best plans may not work out. Sometimes people might say things that we could find offensive or hurtful. Should we let other people or our own trials and failings discourage us? No! Our plans may not always work, but God has better plans for us than we can imagine. Don't let anything, anyone, or any circumstance dim your joy and hope in Jesus Christ.
What about in death? Is there hope even then? In Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel saw a valley of dry bones. Israel said, "Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost." But God said, "Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel...and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live." God has promised hope beyond death for His people. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
Hope in God! He will never fail you.
"Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee." --Psalm 33:22