I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Psalm 130:5)
Closely related to the virtue of faith is that of hope. Hope can be understood simply as faith in what is still future—a confident expectation that God will fulfil all his wonderful promises to us.
Hope, like faith, also has an inseparable relationship to our sanctification. For Christians, our hope is no less than seeing God in the face of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 3:18), and being fully transformed into the likeness of that glory. The Apostle John wrote that every man who has the hope of seeing the pure Christ will also be about purifying himself (1 John 3:2–3).
On the contrary, if there is no hope of the resurrection and of seeing Christ face to face, then Paul himself says that we should just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die (1 Cor. 15:32). Why worry about the difficult task of sanctification—dying to self and to sin and walking in the narrow path of righteousness? If your final outcome is not different from the world, then there is also no reason that your present life should be.
But the Christian understands that he will not only see the Lord but must one day also give account to the Lord for all that he has done. What we do in this life makes all the difference in the next. And so we strive in the hope that our labours upon the earth for the Lord will not be in vain, but will result in heavenly rewards in the Day of Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:57), while also taking seriously the reality that our labours, if not done in accordance to God’s will, can be wasted and burned up even if we ourselves are saved (1 Cor. 3:13–15).
But our hope is not only for that final Day of Judgment, but also for this present life—not that our lives here will be more comfortable, but that they can and will become more conformable to the holiness of God as we are renewed day by day in the image of Christ (2 Cor. 4:16).
One of the all-important first steps in Biblical Counselling is not the giving of good advice (which actually comes quite a bit further down in the list), but the giving of such a hope to the one who may be caught in what seems to be impossible situations or life-dominating sins. One who fears or has despaired of change will not so much as attempt it. But the Lord has promised in his Word that he will give a way of escape to all our temptations so that we are able to bear all of them (1 Cor. 10:13), that he will give his Holy Spirit and his wisdom to all who ask of him in faith (Luke 11:13; James 1:15), that he who has begun a good work in us will certainly also be completing it until the day we are brought in perfect holiness before the Lord Jesus Christ (Phi. 1:6), and that those who hope in him will not be put to shame (Rom. 5:5; 10:11).
This is the second of a series of short devotional articles on Faith, Hope, and Love.