This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.
An innumerable horde of creatures besieged the city of Minas Tirith. Dark clouds fill the sky. Ominous pounding reverberates through the courtyard as the orcs and Uruk-hai attempt to penetrate the large doors. The situation is desperate. The men quake with fear but stand ready to fight. The stench of death surrounds them. Despair is palpable.
Pippin, the hobbit, turns to Gandalf the wizard and says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.”
Gandalf looks kindly at the hobbit and remarks, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”
Pippin’s face reflects his confusion. “What? Gandalf? See what?”
“White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
“Well that isn’t so bad,” Pippin says.
Gandalf smiles. “No. No it isn’t.”
In that dark and desperate moment, Gandalf gave Pippin a glimmer of hope—an expectation of better things.
In another scene, the Rohirrim (the cavalry) appear on the hillside. As the horses begin to move forward into the fray, rays of sunshine break through the gloom as though hope for victory has finally come.
That particular series of books and movies overflows with scenes contrasting light vs darkness, and despair vs hope. On some level, we can all relate to these moments. How often have you been at the brink of utter ruin, only to be saved from destruction? Has life ever seemed purposeless? meaningless?
For the Christian, we remember that life for us was aimless before Christ. Without Him, we faced death (and life) without hope. In our cushy country, most of us have never faced starvation or persecution—at least not since the end of World War II. There is this sense that all will be well. There is confidence that the government will protect and provide. Either that or we’ll pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. That’s misplaced confidence.
What would happen if all those “supports” were suddenly destroyed? In what or in whom would people place their hope?
We have an unshakeable hope. A confident expectation for better things. And it isn’t here in this decaying world!
What is the Christian’s hope?
A hope that defies circumstance.
One of the things that perplexed the Romans during the rise of Christianity was the peace with which the Christians faced death. No matter how much they persecuted, threatened, tortured and imprisoned them, the Christians would not renounce their faith nor beg for mercy. They had confidence that God would deliver their soul if not their body.
The Romans hoped that persistent persecution would destroy the church, but it didn’t. It flourished! The people saw hope reflected in the lives of those Christians and they were hungry to have that same confidence.
Hope that anchors our soul.
When a ship lowers its anchor, it’s very hard for that ship to go wandering off with the tide. It may move around a little in its place, but the anchor keeps it from being carried off by the wind and waves.
Our hope is like that anchor. When circumstance and the deceitfulness of the world push us about, our hope holds us in place so we do not wander away from God.
The Hebrew writer refers to hope as an anchor in the following passage:
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
~ Hebrews 6:17-20 ESV
Hope in God’s Faithfulness and steadfast love.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:19-24 ESV
The above passage is one of my favorites. It eloquently expresses why we can trust in the Lord: he is faithful, his love is steadfast, his mercy never ends. Do you know anybody like that on earth? Have your friends ever let you down? What about family? The church?
Humans will always fall short. We aren’t perfect. Our minds get overwhelmed, our bodies ache and break, our emotions take over. God isn’t frail like us. He is sure, strong and steady. He will never leave us or forsake us.
Placing your confidence in God is a secure choice. We can trust Him. We can have hope because of his trustworthiness.
Hope for eternal peace.
This world is essentially a foreign country for us. It’s a place where we are forged. God wants to know if we really love Him. He wants us all to be with Him in heaven, but many don’t want anything to do with him. They want their way. They want to satisfy themselves.
I was “they” until I decided to put my hope in something better. It’s easy to fall into the rhythm of the world and make a home here—especially when circumstances are wonderful. But with each new day I have to remind myself that this too shall pass—the good and the bad. Every day.
My hope is in a place where my spouse and my children won’t be threatened by thugs. My hope is in a place where those who’ve gone before me are waiting. My hope is in a place where I will finally be face to face with my creator, surrounded by his perfect glory. I’ll get to see Jesus, the one who saved me from eternal death.
I have hope. And I am so thankful to God for giving me a confident expectation for better things.
Do you have this hope?