By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Colossians 1.5, 23, 27
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the letter of Colossians in conjunction with this article.
Hope is probably one of the most powerful things any person can possess. Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” And we have come to abbreviate it to “hope springs eternal.” Hope has such force that it can move a person through the most crucial and critical moments of their life. Yet, there are times we feel that all hope is lost. Hopelessness makes us feel not only despair and desperation, but also alone and abandoned. As transcendent beings of this terrestrial globe, we each seek and want security in a hope that does not deteriorate. For some it is financial independence, for others it is political power, others still it is the pleasures of the flesh. But at the end of the day, when you are lying on your bed considering your past days, your completed day, and the days that may lie ahead, is the hope within your heart one of security or insecurity? That is the hope that we must wrestle with.
Where Is Your Hope?
Life provides many opportunities for hope. We anticipate a better future than past. We expect a peaceful life instead of a turbulent one. We expect our educational investments to return occupational achievements. We look forward to our financial plans being successful. Yet in all of this we know that for all our forecasting and strategizing, the future is still uncertain. A drought can destroy a harvest. A financial market tumble can tear down years of investments. A war can wreak havoc to family and friends. The vanity of life becomes all too blunt and brutal causing trauma and despair. One thing seems certain, while we would like to truly hope in the “good things of life” life has a disgusting way of destroying our expectations; and in some instances destroying the person. Is there a hope that will endure no matter the climate?
The hope that will endure no matter bear market or bull, no matter famine or feast, no matter failure or success, is a hope that is hotly contested. This hope some believe to be the annihilation of all matter (that body is material only and ceases to exist at death). Some believe this hope to be reincarnation, the struggle of many lifetimes to achieve transcendence into the spiritual. Others believe in resurrection, the transformation from the corrupt to the incorruptible. It is this last hope that defines the believer of God and Jesus; this is the Good News. Life has meaning. Life has purpose. Life has hope.
Paul, in Colossians 1.5, says this hope is reserved in heaven (a place outside of the human condition and unseen by human senses) and found by the truth of the Gospel. So our hope of life truly is defined by the hope we believe and practice. If one’s hope in finances; trust will be in the market place. If one’s hope is in empirical evidence; trust will be in observable and measurable results. While both of these have valid application to life, they fail to address the hope of the inner person, the personal condition. Finances can only provide so much. Empirical evidence provides limited information and understanding. Even fleshly pleasure is short lived. So what does the self within hold onto when outside external possibilities seem appealing but experientially disappointing?
What Is Your Hope?
In Colossians 1.23, Paul expresses that hope for the inner person is a continuance of trust of the good news. He expresses it as persistence in the truth of the Good News that is grounded (established like a building’s foundation) and persistence that is firm (immovable like a building’s foundation). Consider the foundation of the Trade Towers. While the superstructure was destroyed and leveled, it took machines to not only remove the debris but also to raze the foundation. When a foundation is secure, the rebuilding of a broken down or dilapidated superstructure can be accomplished. The beauty of a hope in the Gospel is the ability to be more grounded and firmer than the best manmade foundation of the greatest structure.
In Colossians 1.27, Paul states that the hope that survives is the hope of glory found in the Gospel. While Christians throughout the centuries seem to have tarnished the glory of the Gospel, and current thinking seems to be advancing against the hope found within the Gospel, the glory that resides in the Gospel is sweeter far than any one person can ever express.
The glory of the Gospel turns wretched people into healthy people. The glory of the Gospel turns dead people into living sons and daughters of the Greatest Father. The hope found in the Gospel provides five key elements: 1) emotional stability, 2) moral clarity, 3) intellectual capacity, 4) physical durability and 5) spiritual vitality. The financial markets, the scientific achievements, the intellectual accomplishments do not have to be at odds with spiritual needs, they can exist as one. And when these desires are focused because of the hope of the Gospel, the results become a greater benefit to humanity and a glory to the creator above. May we all find the hope that is within the Gospel.