- Keith Harris
True Spiritual Hope
One of my fondest memories of my childhood was the time of year where summer was over and the holiday season was just around the corner. The reason that particular time is so memorable to me is because it just happened to be the time we would receive the Sears Wish Book. I can remember pouring over the pages of that marvelous catalog with great anticipation of what Santa may bring. I remember thinking, “I hope I get…” (fill in the blank).
We often use the word “hope” in a way that indicates a wishful desire. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that usage. This challenge comes when we see this word being used in scripture. The writers of the Holy Book were not simply referencing wishful desires when they penned the word “hope”. There is a great sense of anticipation or expectation in their use of this word.
Certainly, our world is filled with challenges, and our spiritual journey is marked by moments of tremendous pressure as we seek to follow the example of Jesus. We ought always to be thankful to God for the hope we have in Christ. Because of God’s great mercy and Christ’s resurrection, we are born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). The apostle opened his letter to Titus by saying, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Titus 1:1-2). Notice that phrase, “in hope of eternal life”? Paul was meaning the anticipation or expectation of eternal life because of God’s love and mercy shown through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Only Son. We need to have that kind of hope - true spiritual hope.
True spiritual hope is expectation and desire fused into an attitude that is unwavering. It doesn’t matter what happens, our hope, our anticipation, our expectation is eternal life with God.
True spiritual hope puts the world into perspective. Our world is reeling with civil unrest and a global pandemic. We are facing an ever-increasing hostility toward Christianity. But this world is not our home, and the hope we have reassures us of that fact.
With that thought, I offer my adaptation of a prayer of Thomas à
Kempis, a prayer would all do well to pray: “In You, therefore, O Lord God, I put all my hope...For many friends shall not profit, nor strong helpers be able to aid, nor prudent counselors to give a useful answer, nor the books of the educated to console, nor any precious substance to deliver, nor any secret and beautiful place to give shelter, if You Yourself do not assist, help, strengthen, comfort, instruct, keep in safety...To hope in You above all things is the strongest solace of Your servants.”