This weekend, we looked at hope in the Christian life. As believers, our hope isn't that we escape this world and go on to the next one. Our hope is that Jesus' prayer of "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" comes true. The kingdom of the heavens is about God's sovereign rule coming down on earth as it is in heaven. This is what Jesus went about announcing and this is what Revelation 21-22 describes happening in the end.
CS Lewis details this for us in The Great Divorce.
[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.
This is a wonderful hope (a feeling of expectation for something to happen).
What about now? How do we hope in this life? If hope keeps going unmet then our hearts will become sick (Proverbs 13:12).
Saint Paul shares how hope is given to us - through suffering, a perseverance that produces character and, finally, hope - a hope that doesn't disappoint or put to shame (Romans 5:1-5).
This sounds great, but if my hope is in me to persevere, I am going to be disappointed. I know how fickle my heart can be. The thing that gave me hope in the middle of NICU and all the ups and downs of life is that Christ has a hold of me and He will not relax that hold. He is faithful. He called me. He will do it. He is at work to will and do His good pleasure in me. He will never fail me. No one can snatch me out of my Fathers' hands. His seed of righteousness will produce the fruit of righteousness (a heart that is whole, just and correct).
Charles Spurgeon says this beautifully in Morning and Evening:
Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.
Additionally, my hope is that my trials, suffering and trials are not trite, trivial or meaningless. It is not simply a test to pass, or a carrot that He dangles before me until I can "arrive". Rather it is the groaning of the Spirit within me, it is Christ moving in me in the midst of suffering so that my internal heart can receive more of His heart. Christ is working through the suffering to prepare me to receive more of Him and walk in greater measure of His kingdom project here and now. He will not waste one tear or trial. Therefore, rejoice!
To my beloved church family, you have reason to hope today! Your Christ will not leave you. He is with you in the midst of suffering and trials. He is readying your heart to move "further up and further in" to His kingdom then and there and here and now.
There will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.