PTIMISM, ALSO KNOWN AS HOPE, IS ON THE MINDS OF AMERICANS. THERE is an “audacity of hope” at a time when our economy is at its worst, when unemployment is at its highest, along with the limitless toll of two wars, and an unprecedented foreclosure of millions of homes. As novel as this hope may seem, it will slip from the lips of our nation as easily and as quickly as it became a fad if it’s merely a politically manufactured phrase.
The only real and lasting hope is that which comes from Christ. It’s not just another nice word or easy option that temporarily helps us out of a bind or a bad situation. It’s an attitude of the heart, soul, and mind toward a favorable and confident expectation in the future. It’s the source of strength and courage in the face of some of life’s harshest realities or toughest challenges. It’s expressed in a tremendous promise tucked away in Jeremiah 29:11: “‘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.’”
Using Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:15, 16 (Amplified)* this hope demands that we:
1. “Look carefully then how you walk!” Principles underlying the words and works of those walking carefully or circumspectly are love, truth, and compassion. Love guards our tongues diligently from inflicting unnecessary pain, especially in the process of correcting errant followers of Him who so loved the world that was spinning out of control that He gave His only beloved Son. Truth prevents us from talking against others, exaggerating, and gossiping. Compassion constrains us to limit boasting and negative attitudes by thinking more highly of each other (Phil. 2:3).
2. “Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).” Some walls are made of concrete topped with pieces of jagged glass to prevent intruders from climbing or scaling them. Cats are not deterred by them. They step “purposefully” while carefully picking their way and watching where they put their feet.
Christians must likewise be sensible and intelligent, especially on this stony road we call life. It is full of momentous possibilities and opportunities depending on how we spend every single, ordinary second. As we pick our way through each day, we should think, speak, and act according to divine principles, and not be swayed by natural impulses or persuasive advertisements.
3. “Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.” Paul here used the Greek term kairos, which means “the appointed time,” with full consciousness of its significance and force. It conveys a vivid word picture of a merchant searching through a market for a valuable commodity and eagerly buying it (see Matt. 13:45, 46).
The hours of every day are a string of godly pearls treasured for each specific moment. Christians who have hope in the promises of God redeem them and turn them into the very best advantages.
Because ours is a living hope (1 Peter 1:3-9) we can be audacious. When we feel trapped in a dark tunnel of despair or discouragement and exhaustion tempts us to quit, godly hope will step in, lift our spirits, and point us to the light at the end, shouting, “You will make it. Yes, you will!”
For those struggling with a crippling disease or a lingering illness who fear the worst, hope will rise to the occasion and inspire you to persevere beyond the pain by reminding you that God is still in control, the wind and the rain still obey His will, and you will make it. Yes, you will!
For those who feel rejected, abandoned, and alone; who can’t find a job or money to meet their obligations, and are forced to watch their dreams fade away, hope will give you patience to keep trusting that this too shall pass and you will survive. Yes, you will!
*Bible texts credited to Amplified are from The Amplified Bible, Old Testament copyright ” 1965, 1987 by Zondervan Corporation. The Amplified New Testament copyright ” 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.