Surprised by Hope
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “hope” can be defined as, “the emotional state which promotes belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.” With reports of potential economic collapse, deadly weather patterns, ongoing wars, the threat of more wars, etc., I suspect that hope might be running a little low on the supply side. It is hard to blame anyone for failing to believe that things are currently headed toward “a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.” However, as Christians we are suppose to have a different perspective.
I have recently found that different perspective and renewed hope in a surprising place, and I want to point it out that it might be and encouragement to you as well. According to 1 Thessalonians 5 we are awaiting the day of the Lord, which will come as destruction like a thief in the night (5:2-3). This is not exactly the first passage we normally turn to when trying to offer hope to hurting people, and understandably so. Nonetheless, this really is a source of hope to us, for it points to our belief about what God has in store for the earth and humanity. We do not take comfort that the return of Jesus will catch some by surprise. We take comfort in knowing that when Jesus returns he will set all things right.
Each of us believes that our life will enter the next phase in one-of-two ways. Either we will die and go to be with the Lord, or the Lord will return to the earth, restore it (and us) and set up his kingdom. Either way we rest in the knowledge that our life is safe in his hands. Therefore, we do not take comfort in things that will pass away with the coming of the kingdom of God. For example, money is not an eternal resource. We understand that God has given us the power to make wealth (Deut. 8:18) and instructs us to use money as a resource in our attempt to influence people to turn to God (Luke 16:9). So, money is a resource that we are to steward wisely. However, we also know that of all the resources that God has given us money is the least valuable. The Holy Spirit is the most valuable resource we have, and he lives in every one of us who have given our lives to Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit in us we bear the fruit of the Spirit, understand the scriptures and minister to people who have lost hope. So, the passage that starts by discussing “the thief in the night” ends with instructions to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).