Why Hope in Jesus Changes Lives
The world is full of hope. But those who place their hope in the world will be bitterly disappointed. Jesus is our eternal hope. Jesus alone holds the key to Heaven and our salvation. Hope in Jesus changes lives.
Hope in the World
There is no shortage of people who hope for a better future. For example, some people hope for rain, while others wish it would stop. Your neighbor across the street may hope for a new job, while your neighbor overseas hopes the bombing will end. One person desires a good meal and the other hopes for food scraps. Political conservatives hope for conservative leadership, while political progressives hope for radical change agents. In the end, both are disappointed with the outcome. Hope in the world is misplaced hope.
"Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and go, but the earth remains forever." Ecclesiastes 1:1-4
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9
There is nothing new under the sun, says the Teacher, and placing our hope in the world and its leaders are meaningless. But look to the heavens on a clear night and behold all which is not under the sun. The Creator of it all holds the keys to the mysteries and meaning in our life. And hope in Jesus will add new meaning and purpose that changes lives.
Why Hope in Jesus?
Why hope in Jesus? Because placing our hope or faith in anything other than Jesus is ultimately destined to fail. Some may say, "I am rich! I don't need Jesus for success in my life! But the Scriptures say,
"I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich!..." Revelation 2:8
"For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed, in the same way the rich will fade away even while they go about their business." James 1:11
But there is hope in Jesus. So the rich and the poor can have hope in their present circumstances. The rich are not evil because of their money any more than the poor are righteous because of their poverty. But God offers a caution to lukewarm Christians who are comfortable straddling the fence between the Word and the world,
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10
Wake up! Wealth and poverty are two sides of God's coin! The wise person, rich or poor, understands who made the coin and who can give it or take it away.
Our hope is in Him, not ourselves or the world. Success and salvation are in His hands. That's why hope in Jesus changes lives. So we can release the reins of self-control and surrender them to the One who sees us from His heavenly perspective. Let's face it, we can see farther sitting on Jesus' shoulders. But we need faith and hope because we can't always see Jesus holding us up. So we need to wait for His perfect timing.
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8: 24-25
Hope in Jesus During Good Times
Sitting on Jesus' shoulders, we see the land before us flowing with milk and honey. We cruise along in life without a care in the world, singing praises and giving Him all honor and glory.
When the storm clouds form ahead, He shelters and protects us.
"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." Psalm 91:4
God is good, we say! Life is great with God. Yes, it is. We need to keep this perspective. Life is great because God is good, showing us undeserved mercy. So we can stay under His wings and in His slipstream. That's where He wants us, moment by moment.
But as sinful human beings, we can become complacent once we have secured our place in Heaven. In our comfort and "Life is Good" revelry, we shift our focus from what God is doing to make it good to what we are doing. Wow, we think that hard work really does pay off! It's all me!
At that point, we entered the free-fall. Pride does precede the fall, and any believer who has tested God on this knows the outcome. He certainly convinced me (see My Testimony). Thankfully, He didn't kill me or put me in a body cast!
Why is this important? Because we should always remain humble in His presence, giving Him the honor and glory for our good times in life. And the scripture is clear when Jesus told His disciples about what was coming to them from the world,
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
If we have trouble from the world, so be it. However, let's not bring trouble on ourselves because God is making a point.
Hope in Jesus in Despair
The late Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote a simple formula that I believe Jesus would approve of, especially with a slight modification.
Frankl's equation, S - M = D, is so appropriate for people suffering in the world today. Suffering minus (without) Meaning equals Despair. Frankl often quoted Fredrich Nietzsche, "He who has a why can bear almost any how."
It may seem unusual for me to quote a Jewish psychiatrist who mentioned a German nihilist (existence is meaningless) and believed that God was dead.
But as we help people move from hope in the world to hope in Jesus, we need to acknowledge the differences between the world and the Word.
Those who believe God is dead and existence meaningless suffer more intensely than those who find meaning in their suffering. Because Frankl was right, suffering without finding a reason for it does lead to despair. And despair leads to the dark tunnel of depression and, unfortunately for many, suicide.
Compound meaninglessness with no God, and you have a miserable life here and in eternity. That's not what God intends for His children.
We can see Frankl's equation in Jesus' life. Unlike us, Jesus knew about the suffering ahead of Him. Jesus tells us His thoughts in Gethsemane,
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42
Despite His suffering, He knew that what He was doing had meaning and purpose. His meaning and purpose were the salvation of humanity.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18
Thus, with respect to Dr. Viktor Frankl and even greater hope in Jesus, I offer a slight modification to the formula:
S - J = D squared. Suffering without Jesus equals Despair and Destruction.
God reminds us in His Word,
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12
Hope in the world leads to disappointment. But hope in Jesus allows us to enjoy the good times more fully because we see His grace and mercy in our lives. We give Him credit for the blessings. We give Him honor and glory. But our hope in Jesus during times of trouble allows us to transcend the suffering and find new meaning and purpose in the suffering. The suffering enables us to once again turn to Jesus. He is always there to wipe away every tear and soothe every sorrow. I pray that you will find your hope in Jesus today.