As the eyes are made for light, as the lungs are made for oxygen, as the heart is made for love, so the spirit of man is made for hope. “Doubt is devil-brother to despair!”
But how does one have hope when the foundations are shaky, when “terra” does not feel very “firma?”
One: If you feel God has given up on man, remember that every birth is proof He hasn’t. If God had given up on us—bad as we are!—we’d all be dead and so couldn’t be reading these lines. He must have some sort of future for us!
Two: If your ultimate hope is in yourself, you’re going to be terribly depressed; if it is ultimately in others, you’re going to be terribly disappointed; and it is ultimately in God, you’re going to get through this thing called life! Tell God you know that!
Three: People often say that the Christian hope is nothing more than “pie in the sky by and by.” Actually it is an eternal banquet with our Father, our Brother, the Holy Spirit, and all “the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23) for eternity—with stuff much better than the best pie you ever ate!
Fourth: Is your hope weak? Shaky? Indecisive? Remember this about hope: the issue is not how strong your hope is that counts, but the basis of your hope. If you’re skating on thin ice, you had better be some kind of a skater, but it you’re skating on six feet of ice, you can slip and slide and fall and flop around all day and be safe. “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name!” (By the way: ”frame” in that old song refers to a mental state, not anything physical. In other words, do not trust your feelings, trust divine facts.)
Fifth: Alexander Pope famously said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” but his second line is less known, and painful: “Man never is, but always to be, blest.” How hopeless a thought about hope! God has it differently: one can cite fifty Bible passages about our hope for things to come, and the various aspects thereof, but we have a right to experience a living hope, a now hope, an hope on this very day! Hope is—or should be —a present and powerful reality for every Christian. See II Corinthians 3:12, literally, “Seeing we are having—present tense verb—this hope…” And in I Corinthians 13:13, we are told that now hope “abides,” exists, remains, hangs on, persists, etc. Claim what is yours—today! For today!
Sixth: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Don’t waste your time worrying about needing another foundation to build your hope on!
Seventh: I have just finished a book on Lincoln and his historical setting. America have never come close to being as shattered as it was then. Imagine: the war produced over 620,000 casualties (about the same amount of all other wars America was ever involved in!) with a population of less than 32 million. Washington was crawling with spies, the vice president, famously inept, who had a serious drinking problem, was awakened and groggily sworn in the presidency in nightclothes, the country was in horrific debt, and great cities were burned to the ground. America was totally shattered—for southerners who had hoped for a kindhearted Lincoln to oversee reconstruction and a viciously angry Union for having had their ‘savior” murdered. But—as was Lincoln’s never-dying hope (and, hear this: a God-given hope)—the slaves were freed, and the union was saved and America ‘s wounds were healed…to the glory of God and for the betterment of the entire world. And, I gently remind all who read this, for the privilege of you and me living in America and not in literally a hundred other countries where people live in need which we can only read about and wonder how they survive.
Finally? You might as well give your future to God; it is totally in His hands anyway.