The Bible says hope is one of the three great virtues of grace: faith, hope and love. Faith and hope will disappear someday but love endures forever. Yet in this life we live by faith and without hope our faith will fail. This faith is not blindly following a set of propositions about God but rather a living, vital, intensely personal relationship with the Trinity.
Hope allows us to focus with joy on what is ahead. It is not optimism or pessimism. In fact both optimists and pessimists can and should be filled with hope, provided they are filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a reason to be pessimistic about a great deal if you are honest. But hope is not connected to these "seen" factors. It is connected with what is unseen.
Eternity is only a "hands-breadth off" said J. B. Phillips. "At present we are largely blind and deaf and insensitive to reality. And this is not entirely out fault. But if reality were to break through, then we should see that the things we hope for are true, far more true than we ever supposed" (Phillips).
Our hope will in no way be disappointed. Indeed, what we hope for will be infinitely exceeded by the magnificence of what we shall see in the real world which is to come. We cannot begin to explain the glory which is to come and at best we only stammer when we try to speak about it. What fills me with wonder is that so few of us who profess to know and love Christ seem fixed on this great hope. It is ours for the taking by the Spirit but we remain dull and uninterested. Could it be that we are so "earthly minded" that we have separated our hope from the course of everyday life in this world. If anything about Christian faith is real at all it must be this: Jesus lives and so shall I.
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Thank you for this John. I struggle to be filled with hope. I am constantly so trained, against my will, by my everyday experience that when I die, I will rot, and that will be the end of it.