The word hope was made most famous during the 2008 presidential campaign of Barrack Obama. The Democratic nominee swept the nation with his charisma and charm as he gave a message of hope to the people of the United States who felt as if they were ignored, as they struggled under the economic collapse that came the year before. They looked to a political figure who brought a message of optimism with the slogan: Yes we can! Say what you want about Obama as a president, but Obama, at the time, was recognized as the great symbol of American hope. When I saw his inauguration with my 5th grade class at the age of 10, a great joy was in my heart of how far America came from the shackles and chains of slavery from 145 years prior.
The Israelites longed for the same hope during the Babylonian captivity and exile. Families were driven out from their homeland to live as a ghetto among a nation built on pagan idolatry. Everything that the Israelite nation loved was taken away from them. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian artillery. The sacred temple they had faith in was burned to the ground. They now lived as slaves, and to them it seemed that God’s people were forgotten and had fallen from God’s mercy. But God brought his own message, but not through a political figure such as a king, or a man of honor such as a noble, but rather through a humble prophet named Jeremiah.
God gave an inspiring message to the people of Israel in Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV): “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Here God makes it clear that He plans to give the Israelites hope. What is this hope He intends to give to a people who are enslaved by a sinful and wicked nation, built on the worship of idols and defilement of the one true God? The hope God offers to Israel is found in Jeremiah 29:14 (ESV): “I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Israel was overwhelmed with hope at this moment knowing that their hope lied in the knowledge that God would restore, gather, and return the people back to His promised land.
At this very moment, hope has become more relevant and necessary for the Church as we are coming closer to the final chapter of the world we live in. Christians all around the world are enduring through suffering and persecution, even in the United States in college campuses, public squares, and mainstream media. It seems the one thing we need is the same hope that God gave the Israelites, but the good news is that there is an even greater hope than the hope God gave the Israelites and the hope Obama tried to give to the people of the United States.
The message of hope is done in the same way God communicated to the Israelites, but under different circumstances. Christ restores His people with the riches that were taken away from them by sin, gathers His people to be baptized by the Spirit into one body, and returns them to His Kingdom as promised. This is our hope: that the full glory of the Kingdom of God is yet to come. Soon, we will be blessed with a glorious return of our Lord, who shall gather all His flock to be reunited once again to an eternal life we were promised.
The hope of a believer lies not in political rule or wealth. Hope can only be found in Christ to redeem us from our sins, and, once redeemed, a hope of a matrimony between Christ and His bride. There is a great Kingdom awaiting those who follow Christ and endure till death, or the end of the age. Everyday we approach God’s throne ever so closely and I am very excited to be with my God one day. This hope is why we can rejoice in hardships and struggles, for Heaven is our home and not this world. This world is temporary, but the Kingdom that awaits us is everlasting.
In the 19th century, Sarah Flower Adams penned the words of a great hymn that resonates with every true believer who holds the hope of Heaven dearly:
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
What a glorious and joyous hope that we have, and the hope that I wish everyone would come to find: Christ’s stands waiting to return to His children, so that He would bring them to a splendorous dwelling place that lasts forever. We may not always know where God leads us and we certainly all have our doubts at times, but as Christians we know that suffering is a small price to pay compared to the prize. The crown of glory awaits us, and I stand ready for the day God calls me home.
May we always be reminded of Heaven’s throne, so that the hope it brings would not be a comfort made hidden, but that others would find the hope the children of God have. May these words of Paul in Romans 15:13 (ESV) resonate within our hearts as we walk with full assurance of faith, and the knowledge of a hopeful future: “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.”
Soli Deo Gloria.