God keeps His promises. In the early sixth century, after a forced march of some 900 miles, the Israelites sat huddled in captivity in far away Babylon knowing the truth of that statement. Having denied God’s sovereignty by worshiping other gods, ignoring His commandments, and otherwise living up to their reputation as a “stiff-necked” people, the nation of Israel finally faced the fruition of God’s promise to take away His gift of the promised land if they did not change their ways.
But even in their exile, God, who never changes, remembered His love for them. Jeremiah the prophet tells the remnant of Israelites who remained in their homeland:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (29:11)
God’s gift of hope threads its way throughout His Word, and every time, what begins in hope ends in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Sara laughed because she thought herself too old to have a child, and yet Abraham is the patriarch of a nation. David, a humble shepherd, was hunted down and nearly killed by Saul and yet his son, Solomon, eventually ruled over a kingdom whose riches we can only imagine. A virgin gave birth to a child whose death on the Cross fulfilled the Law and saved the world.
Sometimes, when we get caught up in the hectic, busy business of living day-to-day, we forget God’s promise of hope counts for much more than our everlasting life. His hope means that in this life of trouble and woe and uncertainty, we have the promise that God, who sees all, has the endgame in sight. He wants us to have peace. He longs for us to be at rest in our trust of Him.
Jesus reminds us,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. . . . I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” (John 14:27 & 16:33)
Leaning into the hope that is the promise of a world overcome by our Savior takes practice and patience. We have to learn to listen to our self-talk, correct a mind that wants to embrace gloom and doom instead of the love of God, and know the truths and promises that we believe so easily during times of joy so that we do not forsake them in times of trouble.
Hope offers peace when we wonder at the machinations of even the greatest government in the world, as we wait for test results in a crowded doctor’s office or worry over the bills we cannot pay. It is that feeling, deep down inside of us, that we will find comfort and rest, no matter how dim our present seems. It is the smile of a stranger on a bad day, the unexpected refund just when we need it most, the tiny victory of a good report from the doctor even when your condition is fatal.
Hope is for the courageous, but God gives courage. The world is always ready to mock those who claim a faith in God’s goodness and love. But those who believe have in their hearts a higher goal than the worries of this world can hold. They know the victory that comes with believing in the hope of heaven and embracing the evidences of our hope on earth.