By Jonathan C. Brentner
I know “courageous hope” sounds like an oxymoron. After all, does it really require courage to hope for a sunny day, a successful job interview, or a speedy recovery from an illness?
Biblical hope, however, differs radically from what typically comes to our minds when we hear the word “hope.” For those of us in Christ, Jesus’ resurrection provides absolute confidence that His promises for our tomorrows will not fail.
Although our desire for the weather to cooperate with our plans may not happen, we can trust the words of Jesus regarding our future. After talking about the signs of His return to earth, He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
Because of our complete confidence in Jesus’ words, biblical hope gives us the courage to:
Bravely Face Difficult Days
Paul wrote the book of 1 Thessalonians to a church enduring great persecution. Some members of this young church had already died, possibly the result of the fierce Jewish opposition to their faith.
How did the apostle encourage these new believers in their affliction? He reminded them again and again of their ultimate hope in Jesus’ soon appearing, of being “caught up” to meet the Lord “in the air” (1 Thess. 1:10, 2:19-20, 3:13, 4:13-18, 5:1-10).
How does Lord’s appearing to take us to the “place” He is preparing for us (John 14:2-3) encourage our hearts? It does so by fixing our eyes on our expectation of His return for us. Nothing the world throws at us can take that away from us. We will spend eternity with Jesus in imperishable bodies that He will give to us (1 Cor. 15:51-55; Rom. 8:23-24; Phil. 3:20-21).
When we cannot see any hope in the world about us, our anticipation of Jesus’ return tells us a much different story. Such an expectation supplies us with courage when we endure rejection, face circumstances far beyond our human ability to cope, or go through a painful process of healing.
Jesus’ return to take us home gives us strength to face difficult days. Because He rose from the dead, we know His promises are as sure the sunrise tomorrow morning,
Trust When the Path Ahead Appears Foreboding
The latest book by David Horowitz, Dark Agenda, warns Christians in America of the rising tide of persecution that continues to grow. It’s not difficult to imagine that the left’s hostility toward biblical values will eventually turn violent toward those who espouse them. Horowitz believes this is closer than we can imagine.
Besides the opposition of the world (aka the devil), stressors such as dwindling finances, sickness, and deteriorating relationships can also cloud our future making it seem bleak at best. We strain to see just a glimmer of light at the end of our dark tunnel, but we see only darkness ahead.
Is it not our biblical hope that provides the necessary courage when our future seems foreboding at best?
David wrote these words in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” I either read or recited this verse every day for months at a time when my future looked dismal. As I waited on the Lord for what seemed a very long time, He gave me the strength to face my uncertain future.
Immersing our minds and hearts in the Psalms might not seem like an act of valor, but it is. The words of the Psalmists assure us that God knows all about our sorrows and yet promises us a wondrous future. The Psalms meet us in our misery, renew our hope for both this life and forever, and transport us to time when Jesus will reign over all the earth in perfect righteousness.
Remain Faithful to the Words of Scripture
Although I have repeatedly read New Testament texts that predict a turning away from the faith in the last days, I’m still shocked by the level of apostasy I see.
I recently saw a picture of “church” leaders who had gathered to bless Planned Parenthood and display their support for abortion. How is that even remotely possible for anyone who claims to be a “Christian?” How can anyone, for that matter, honor the wicked and utterly horrific murder of unborn children or of babies shortly after birth?
In our day, it requires a degree of courage to remain faithful to the words of Scripture when so many people, even those who attend church, ridicule us for upholding biblical values.
In Ephesians 5:3-8, Paul warns his readers not to adopt the morals of the world because it’s these behaviors that “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” His words in Ephesians 5 read like a prophecy for our day. The lure of the world’s approval has caused many churches to adopt the LGBTQ agenda and mock those of us who remain true to the words of Scripture. They do so ignorant of the rapidly approaching coming day of the Lord.
I never thought I would see a time when adherence to the words of Scripture would require so much courage in the midst of opposition both from the world and the church, but that day has arrived. I am finding this relates to prophecy as well as biblical values. If you see Israel’s existence today as a sign that God is fulfilling prophecy and that we are in the last days, you will also face fierce opposition from inside and outside the church.
I once saw a birthday card that read, “Getting old is not for sissies.” The same applies for keeping our hearts focused on our hope in Jesus’ soon return regardless of the hardships that come our way, the darkness of the path ahead of us, and the ridicule we will hear for taking the words of Scripture literally either in regard to values or our hope.
Our anticipation of Jesus’ appearing anchors our hearts giving us courage to walk through what one author calls this “vale of tears.”
The author of Hebrews aptly calls our anticipation of forever as a “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:18). Our anchor never lets go, even amid the fiercest of storms. Although we might be tempted to think so amid the darkness that surrounds us at times, Jesus never lets go and He is coming for us…very soon!