The Hope of God
True hope starts with the recognition that the life and death of Jesus Christ changed everything. During our Lord’s earthly ministry, Israel’s future hope, spoken of in the Old Testament, became an emphatic present hope. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” they cried as Jesus entered Jerusalem (John 12:13). Then, on a certain Friday that seemed anything but good, they killed Jesus by nailing Him to a tree. At once, despair asserted itself with such force that Christian hope appeared to die with the Savior on whom it had hung. Peter had said to Jesus: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Now, however, the Savior was dead.
Just when all hope seemed lost, something unexpected happened. On the third day after Jesus’ death, hope stepped out from the shadows of Calvary. The tomb was empty. Jesus was alive in resurrection glory, having died as an offering for His people’s sin. Such good news is the historical reality in which our theology of hope is rooted. No longer do the chains of human despair bind us. As God’s new creation, we who believe the gospel enjoy the gift of Christ in us, “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Indeed, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each Christian makes Christian hope accessible. We don’t somehow conjure it up by the strength of our wills. Rather, the Spirit brings hope by His very presence in us.
The movement of Christian hope has a discernable trajectory. First and foremost, this hope directs us to God, encouraging us to approach each new day coram Deo, before the face of God. But this hope also directs us toward one another in love. It moves us toward other people, which requires involvement in one another’s lives. It is a multidirectional hope that is both vertical in our relationship with God and horizontal in our relationship with one another.
But Christian hope doesn’t mean that the Christian life is all peaches and cream. Until Jesus returns, we will experience sin and suffering. The pattern of our life as Christians is the cross of Christ; we cannot rise with Christ unless we have first died with Him. As Paul states, “The sting of death is sin” (1 Cor. 15:56), which lays all of us in the dust. But Jesus went lower still, even to death on a cross, in order to atone for our sins. Therefore, we have hope that whatever challenge comes our way, God’s grace is greater than our sin; it is always sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
This kind of solid and lasting hope is what everyone truly wants, and it is a gift that we enjoy in Christ: a living hope.