A Better Hope
Hope. It is the mystery we all grasp for. We live in dismal times, in dire need of hope. We see the brokenness around us. We know the human race is deeply bent. What we want is for something trustworthy that will tell us things will get better. This is not all there is. So, we continue to grasp for that which we cannot see, for that which we’re not even sure how to define. Hope.
When I was studying abroad in college, a friend invited me to celebrate a local holiday with her class. At one point, they passed out little pieces of paper and told me to write a hope on it. “We write down our hopes. Then we bury them in the ground and hope they will come true.” It was a silly traditional activity they did for fun, like when Americans blow out our birthday candles, but every time I think about it, I think of what a great picture it is of how we often hope. We wish, we bury it, and we hope it just comes true. We may even work hard to make it come true.
But, what is it that followers of Christ are hoping for?
Our Hope is Not For a Better Life Now.
Most people are striving for the hope that life will get better. That’s why the self-help industry and the idea of the American Dream are so popular. Work hard and pull yourself up and your life will get better.
Christians are no different. We often practice Christianity because we think it will make our lives better. We often use Jesus as a stepping stone for comfort.
What happens when everything comes crashing down? What happens when a loved one dies, someone betrays you, you lose your job and home? What then? I’ve watched so many people abandon Jesus at this point because he didn’t bring them what they expected-a better life now.
Author Larry Crabb says, “Christianity is not centrally about experiencing a better life. Christianity is centrally about experiencing a better hope.”
We often mistake the hope of eternity as a hope for a better life of riches, comfort, no sickness, and no mistakes. We are trusting Jesus for our own personal comfort. If you arrived in Heaven to discover Jesus was not there but your mansion was, would you be disappointed?
Our Hope is Not in How-tos.
In order to gain a better life, we read self-help books, pay for workshops, search for the next 5-step process that will change our lives.
We often think Christianity gives us the techniques to reach this better life we desire. The Bible is certainly full of holy principles that are good for us and will most likely improve our lives, but they cannot be our ultimate hope. Following techniques depends on me and I fail. A Hope in how-to is never a certain one.
What is this better hope?
God tells us there is a better hope. Hebrews 7:19 says, “(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”
Larry Crabb explains that the better hope “ is not that God will bless this mess or fix it-the better hope is that we can draw near to Jesus no matter what’s happening in our lives.”
What a bigger and more compelling vision this is than striving for a better life! When we go after a better life, our vision is too small. C.S. Lewis described this in an analogy: “God offers us a holiday at sea, but we are content making mudpies in the slums.” Our hope is too small. We are content trying to find a better life when God offers us something even better-Himself.
Knowing Jesus is the better hope-the best hope.
A couple of years ago, my faith came to probably its lowest point ever in response to a devastating circumstance. It seemed as though the tears would never stop, the anxiety would never lift. I sat in my devastation and my soul cried out, “why did you let this happen? Why did you ignore my prayer?” God never answered my why (I still don’t know why), but He drew me to his arms and held me as I cried. In a comfort that I can only say had to be the Holy Spirit, God told me, “I am good. I love you. I love your loved ones more than you. My purposes are good and that’s all you need to know right now.” This natural doubter was inexplicably certain it was true. I knew the God who defined goodness was on my side and I knew him deeply. It was the greatest moment in my faith since first coming to Jesus. I crossed a threshold from a shaky hope into a better hope.
The world defines hope as something you wish for. The world’s hope is fickle and uncertain. We can depend on no one but ourselves to access the world’s hope, but we are broken.
Biblical hope, on the other hand, depends completely on an omnipotent, all-powerful God. Biblical hope is being certain that God will do what He has promised to do-redeem us, sanctify us, and draw us to him. Biblical hope is certain because it depends on a God who is faithful and who always keeps his promises.
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