2020 was a rough year for many of us, and rougher still for the poor and needy around the world. The calendar change to 2021 didn’t make life easier, and for many it is increasingly difficult. We have elderly people in care centers whose loved ones aren’t allowed inside to sit with them and hug them. Here in Oregon (it’s different in many other places), my grandson Ty is a freshman in high school but though most of the school year is now over, he and his classmates have not yet stepped foot in his school because of COVID restrictions. Online education is better than nothing, but it’s not the same. Sports and other activities have been cancelled, postponed, or abbreviated.
One of the greatest dangers we are facing, from children to the elderly, is the loss of hope. Nothing robs us of happiness faster than hopelessness, and nothing encourages it more than hope. The day or even the season of life can be dark, but hope still shines a light. Samuel Johnson wrote, “Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.”
Of course, there is false hope and true hope. Scripture offers solid ground for our hope in Christ. Knowing His redemptive design, God assures His children, “I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
If we keep telling ourselves there’s no hope, we’ll believe it and be profoundly unhappy. To have hope, we must draw from God’s Word to tell ourselves the reasons for our hope, which all rest in God.
“The hope of the righteous brings joy” (Proverbs 10:28). In the New Testament, chairo and chara are closely connected with hope: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Three chapters later we read, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Choosing to rejoice by rehearsing reasons to be grateful even in the midst of suffering is an affirmation of trust not only in what God has done but also in our belief that He will bring a good end to all that troubles us. The gospel infuses hope and joy into our circumstances because it acknowledges God’s greatness over any crisis we’ll face.
Although it was recorded in 2019, my message in this video clip remains the same: Jesus Christ and His promises are the only solid foundation for our hope in a world of uncertainty and difficulties. (In the video, Pastor Greg Laurie prayed for my wife Nanci, who as of now has been battling cancer for over three years. Greg and his church praying for her touched me deeply. You can see her Caring Bridge for Nanci’s latest updates.)