“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+4%3A13-18&version=ESV)
“16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 17 These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! 18 So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+4:16-18)
Our world is full of troubles. It is full of heartbreak, disease, and loss. In our world Christians are not immune to social exclusion, mental illness, or addictions simply because they have a certain belief system. Yet, there is something which the Bible offers us even though we may continue to struggle in this world and that message is one of hope.
Many psychological and clinical journals allude to the fact that if someone keeps a positive outlook while struggling with a critical illness that their chances of survival become far greater. It has been proven time and again that when people who are on the brink of death pray to a Higher Being (regardless of which god it is) that they often have a higher recovery rate. Even in the very famous 12 step movements after acknowledging the problem, one of the next first steps is in placing one’s faith in a Higher Being.
Recently at a church small group Bible study, my pastor talked about a psychological textbook called the Anatomy of Hope. We discussed this title together as a group. To me, there is definitely an anatomy of hope, that is, a certain way that hope is built and retains itself.
The Bible speaks of the fact that in this world we WILL have many troubles, yet we can also take heart because Christ has overcome the world. (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+16:33). To be a Christian does not imply turning a blind eye to the injustices, hurts, and pains around us, but it does point to the fact that when we are lost and confused we can place our trust completely in Christ who is the great High Priest who intercedes on our behalf. (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=hebrews+4:14-16)
What is this anatomy of hope built of? The anatomy of hope is formed through a lifelong commitment and relationship with Christ. It is a relationship which completely entrusts one’s life to God believing that He WILL work all situations out for the good of those who love Him. – Romans 8:28 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A28&version=ESV)
In the anatomy of hope we are reminded that as upsetting as life can be for us at times that there is always someone worse off than we are. It is a reminder to be humble and to accept the help of others. It is a reminder that it is okay to be broken and through our brokenness that we can minister to others.
That’s not to say that we should compare our frustrations with others. It’s not about who is better or worse off, but it is a reminder that even when we face trials rather than having a Job complex we can choose to focus on the many ways that Christ has blessed us. Although Job was imperfect one of the most important things that is said about him is that in all of this Job did not sin or curse God (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+1:22&version=ESV). How great our testimony would be if the same could be said of us! That even when we go through the most trying times in our lives rather than abandon our faith, we cling fast to the words of truth.
Lately, I have been re-reading the Bible from cover to cover and over and over again I find how all the stories tie in with one another. Sometimes God may seem to act in cruel ways, however, when you really look at the situation and the culture you see how even in those situations God was acting for the benefit and protection of His children. It may sound cliché, but the Bible is truly a love letter written to us from God. It is God’s way of reminding us that He is always with us no matter what. Just like Miester Eckhart once said, “God has never left home. It is we who have gone out for a walk.”
So, next time you are tempted to despair or to drink the bitter poison of angst, remember Christ’s love and redemption. Understand that in this world there definitely will be many injustices and wrongs. We live in a fallen world where the effects of sin are death (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+6%3A23&version=ESV). It breaks God’s heart when others hurt us. It literally rips His heart in half. BUT He has promised that this is not the end. He has promised that as hard as life is at times for us, that there is a future coming that is filled with hope. In the future there will be no crying, tears, or shame (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelations+21%3A4&version=ESV). And because of this promise of a future glorious eternity, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. We don’t give up even though our present life is wasting away. We do not give into an attitude of defeatism and underdogism. Rather, we accept trouble as a growing edge and are inspired to use our difficulties for the good of others. We begin to craft an anatomy of hope. We begin to place our trust in a Higher Power and in doing so we are reminded that our sufferings on this earth are only trivial and fleeting, but what lies beyond after our character is formed lasts for an eternity!