Outside the Bible, especially in our society, hope consists of a half-hearted optimism unsure of its basis. It has no anchor. It freely trusts in one ideology after another, from Marxism to capitalism, materialism to idealism, religiosity to secularism, legalism to license. Or society’s hopes are more clearly focused but are in objects that cannot satisfy hope: a career, business opportunities, marriage, children, money, security, a new home, and so on. The secular version of hope becomes like Sinbad the sailor who anchored his craft to what he thought was a sturdy atoll, only to discover that it was a big fish which dashed off with sailor, craft, and all.
Consider the indelible impact on the world made by Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Both men led a strong attack on the Christian faith, with Marx calling religion the “opiate of the people” and Freud defining God as the projection of a child’s wish for a protecting, powerful father. Believing that God was dead, both Marx and Freud died bitter and disillusioned men, virtually friendless, without inner peace and overwhelmed with despair and hopelessness.
Contrast Marx and Freud with C.S. Lewis, another intellectual, who embraced the Christian faith and used his talents to influence people in a noble direction. Lewis, if you recall, lost his wife to cancer. He grieved severely, but later emerged from his sorrow with renewed strength and unspeakable joy derived from God on whom his hope was grounded. Unlike Marx and Freud, Lewis had the resources of a living God to see him through.
Lewis’ life revealed, in contrast to a secular view, a hope that is not in us, not based on what we can do or achieve, but rather coming from beyond ourselves. The Christian’s hope is not subjective but objective. It is subjective in that it is a feeling. But it is objective in that clings to something real and powerful. For the Christian that something that is beyond ourselves and is objective is God—the living God. God is both the inspirer and the object of hope. Again and again, God is called “the God of hope” The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as “Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1 NIV). On another occasion Paul says of Jesus “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27 NIV).
The Christian’s hope is not fleeting, but guaranteed and assured. It is based on the promises of God, guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and appropriated by faith. That’s why the Psalmist could sing, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, My Savior and my God” (Psa. 42:5 NIV). That’s why the apostle Paul could write, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NIV).
Real hope is based on God. That’s why a believer can sing, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.” As the writer of Hebrews stated, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19 NIV).
At those moments when we are overwhelmed by disillusionment, discouragement, depression or even despair, we must never forget that God is the anchor for our hope.