Whatever we hope for informs how we live and the decisions that we make. As believers, we have put our hope in the living God; (1 Timothy 4:10) who transforms us as we follow and imitate Jesus through the power of the Spirit. Our entire perspective is changed with the hope of eternal life as our backdrop. This life-giving hope plays out within the communities where God has placed us, as we actively seek to 'encourage one another and build each other up' (1 Thessalonians 5:11) ready to tell others of the hope that we share.
God’s grand narrative stretches like an arc of hope across salvation history, and as his children we are located within that space as the outworking of his purposes continue into eternity. This arc spans early accounts in Genesis where the backdrop for the current state of the cosmos is displayed, through to Revelation’s conclusion with its glorious emphasis upon God’s promised recreation of a new heaven and a new earth - our great living hope!
Far from simply being vague, wishful thinking, ‘hope’ for God’s people is grounded in certainty and truth, based not on something but on someone – Jesus Christ. The foundation for our living hope is made possible through the sacrificial death of Jesus from which bursts new life! As the apostle Peter exclaims, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:1-4a)
At certain times in our lives, circumstances overwhelm us and for a time we simply cling to a lifeboat under a canopy of storm-clouds and focus on surviving. When our crisis or dark period ends, and we move into quieter waters, a season of reflection often reveals how God’s anchor-points of hope have sustained us, as we take a deep breath, recalibrate and give him thanks. This image of the sun’s brilliance bursting through storm-clouds reflects such a time in my life. Some years ago, our family were holidaying by the coast and endured a difficult afternoon with our special-needs adult son. When we later reflected on this photo of our son and I sitting on the beach that day catching our breath, it spoke powerfully to us of God’s powerful presence and tender watchfulness over us as a family. Two small figures within God’s vast creation, located securely under his overarching love with hope restored once again.
As believers, we are caught up in a story that is bigger than ourselves. “Christians are people who have their roots in the future, and their branches in the present” (John Zizoulas) – that, due to the seismic change wrought by Christ’s resurrection, all that nourishes us and sustains our lives in the present actually flows to us from the future; “That is how we can live in the present with the certainty of a good future – our roots are already established.” (James Bryan Smith). As we all live into the futures that God has prepared for us, my prayer is that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” Ephesians 1:18a.