Hope for the future

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We speak of hope now and in the future, but never hope for yesterday. Hope always has a future focus. Saint Augustine said, “Hope deals with good things, and only those which lie in the future, and which pertain to the man who cherisheth the hope. When hope attains its object, hope ceases to be and becomes possession.”

Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord links the future and hope. He promises the exiles who wished to return from captivity to their homeland: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29: 11 NIV). God always has our best in mind.

When we understand the future focus of hope, we are able to look at the events of life in a new light. We realize, for example, that out of suffering there is good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NIV). Hope knows to look beyond the painful realities of this life. Through suffering God is either teaching us a lesson or preparing us for something grand. He can turn our “disappointments” into “His appointments,” which hints that the thwarting of my purposes may be God’s better plan for me.

We also come to understand that out of sorrow there is life. Christian hope is securely wrapped and guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle of hope, Peter, reminds us that we can rejoice even in the midst of sorrow and death. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV). Through the resurrection of Jesus, we mortals have a glimpse of immortality. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death has been translated from an ending into a beginning, from a period to a comma, from a conclusion to an introduction, from a final destination into a rest stop.

The Christian life is hope experienced. A hopeless Christian is a contradiction in terms. For our hope is based on God and his promises, is cared for in the community of believers known as the church, and is granted fulfillment in heaven through eternal life.

Yes, hope and life are intertwined.

Several years ago, a teacher assigned to visit children in a city hospital received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. She took the boy’s name and room number and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn’t fall behind the others.” It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. She felt that she couldn’t just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.”

The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked the hospital teacher as she came to help the boy again, “What did you do to that boy?” Before the teacher could finish a profusion of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand. We’ve been very worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

The boy explained later that he had completely given up hope until he saw that teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears he expressed it this way, “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

Hope and life are inexplicability woven together. To know the certainty of God’s heaven is to have hope reign supreme.

About Rick Ezell

I am a husband, father, pastor, and writer.

This blog is about shaping character, transforming church, and impacting culture. I believe that if one defines their moments then their moments will determine their character and their character will influence their world.

I write on personal development, church leadership, and our changing culture. I also write about the resources I am developing and the books I am writing.

My goal is to create challenging, relevant, and inspiring content that will help you be a better person, the church be a better parish, and the world a better place. If you are interested in those things, this blog is for you.

I have served the church my entire career as a student minister and senior pastor. I studied at Samford University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (eventually I will get it).

I have written eight books. My most recent ones are Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love and Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23. Both are available as eBooks. I have written over 1000 articles for various local, regional, and national publications.

I have been married to Cindy for thirty-three years. We have one wonderful daughter. We live in Greenville, SC.

In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, running, tennis, and golf.

You can contact me via email or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my employer. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.

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