Where do we place our hope? Is it kept in a fragile jar waiting patiently on the shelf? Hidden in an upward gaze? Emerging from a heart turned open and ready for joy? Where do we rest the very essence of our thought and feeling (and trust and desire) about what we deeply want to be true?
We cannot place our hope in the things of this world. They are simply too fragile to handle it. Our emotions betray us and our mind gets overwhelmed. Other people, God bless ’em, are just as weak as we are. Even the “hoped for” markers of human life (falling in love, marriage, having children, career achievements, ministry highlights, exciting adventure) eventually leave us asking, “Is this it? Is this all there is?”
Hope is too powerful to assign to the temporal nature of our experience. We must not let it be tethered to and dragged down by the weight of what we think we know.
So where does that flicker of a flame go? The hope in your heart and mine is safe only in one place…only with one person.
“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:28-31 NIV, italics mine)
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spends time in these verses (before the quoted ones above) establishing the character of God. Take a moment to read through the entire chapter. He paints a picture of God as one who is unlike any other- one who is totally and forever original. God is unshakable; God is never-beginning and never-ending; God is all-knowing and his knowledge and wisdom belong to him alone. God is tender and compassionate. God is one who does not forsake or abandon.
From this scripture, we only begin to understand who is this Almighty God. Poetic brushstrokes depict one who is trustworthy though, doesn’t it? Something in me leans a little closer to pay attention. To take in the detail and texture and clarity of color. To try and imagine the one who is this magnificent.
Even still, I question– am I holding on too tightly to this hope? Am I suffocating what could be? Am I trying to force hope onto things that will eventually fail or break or wither? If this world cannot sustain hope and if our instinct is to do something with this hope, lest it die and we go with it, then where does it go?
The author of Hebrews, sending an exhortation to the Jewish Christians (likely during the 1st Century AD) writes,
“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Heb. 3:1-6 ESV, italics mine.)
Here is the crux of it: Jesus Christ, in you, is the hope of glory. Everything that came before him- each of the foreshadowing types (such as Moses, referenced in Hebrews above), every prophetic vision or message, generations of temple sacrifice- all of it prepared the ground for the Messiah to come. For Christ to not only fulfill, but exceed. Isaiah’s every word that describes the character of God is exemplified also in Christ. Jesus is the one who is magnificent.
The inclination to place our hope somewhere safe is correct.
Does your gut feeling tell you that hope itself has come from a place outside of time and space? This all makes sense when hope comes to find its home in Christ. It’s like an echo of something he called out before the world began and your soul is hearing it, absorbing it, searching for the place to reverberate it back to. The original voice cried out to me and to you and He is that original voice!
And in some wonderful twist of the story, he is preparing his kingdom within us. “We are his house…” that Christ is building, as the perfect son and reflection of our heavenly Father. We are his house that is filling with courage and hope! The kingdom of God is being built within us as we respond to that echo and invite the original voice to come and make his home in our lives.
Christ is every bit of the faithfulness of the Father God and he is challenging me and you with this- are we entrusting our hope with him?