TWO THOUSAND AND thirteen has just started and yet, many are feeling downright hopeless. It seems that the new year, in spite of the initial euphoria, cannot bid goodbye to the problems and frustrations of the past year, casting a feeling of pessimism and cynicism upon many.
Indeed, still looming in the horizon are man’s enormous problems: unending wars, soaring food and fuel prices, debilitating diseases, calamities and disasters that are displacing populations and threatening governments.
This makes us wonder---and ask ourselves: How can we aspire for a bright future in the drumbeat of impending bad news? How should we react when confronted with gloom and doom scenarios? Is there still hope for mankind amid the cycle of hopelessness many find themselves in?
Dark and uncertain future
If what we hope for is a kinder, gentler world, then we will be utterly disappointed. Our Lord God, through the prophet Ezekiel, foretold what would take place in these last days: “This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: ‘One disaster after another is coming on to you. It’s all over. This is the end. You are finished. The end is coming for you people who live in the land’. …” (Ezek. 7:5-7, Today’s English Version).
Also, the prophet Isaiah mentioned of the devastation and destruction that would be wrought by evil people: “Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways” (Isa. 59:7-8, New Kings James Version).
No wonder, most of media’s staple issues and topics today are enough to make one cringe in hopelessness and fear. Screaming headlines tell ominously of impending threats to mankind---terror attacks, recessions, pandemics, environmental disasters, among others.
Moreover, nothing in this world is certain: fame, power and possessions are ephemeral. Man himself has been appointed by God to die---in fact, he faces death everyday (I Cor.15:31) --- and afterward judgment (Heb. 9:27). Even this world in which we live will not exist forever (II Pet. 3:7, 10); it is bound to perish and be discarded (Ps. 102:25-26).
Man’s living hope
Inasmuch as life on earth is bleak and the future is grim, what then remains as man’s only hope?
Apostle Peter reminds us of our living hope that includes an “inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading …” (I Pet. 1:3-5, Revised Standard Version) which we will receive in the new heavens and a new earth (II Pet. 3:13).
Unlike this world we live in, in the Holy City we will never experience tribulation; it is a perfect place: thus, there will be no more sorrow or crying, death, thirst, and hunger (Rev. 21:1-4).
However, not just anyone can truly hope to gain entrance to the Holy City. Apostle Paul made mention of those who are in Christ who are “heirs according to the promise” and thus can hope to receive the eternal reward (Gal. 3:29). They have become heirs of God’s promise, because our Lord Jesus Christ created one new man from two---Christ and those who are in Him (Gal. 3:16; Eph. 2:15). The composition of the one new man is Christ as the head and the Church as the body (Col. 1:18).
To become an heir, man must become one with Christ through His body which is the Church Of Christ (Col. 1:18; Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). The Church Of Christ is, indeed, indispensable because only through it can man become one with Christ.
Thus, joining the Church Of Christ and remaining obedient to God’s commands until the end is of utmost importance in order to enter the Holy City and receive eternal life.
Source of all hope and blessings
On the part of God’s faithful servants, He is their unfailing source of hope; thus, they will never give up entrusting their lives to God: “Even if a whole army surrounds me, I will not afraid; even if enemies attack me, I will still trust God. I have asked the Lord’s house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance. In times of trouble he will keep me safe in his Temple and make me secure on a high rock” (Ps. 27:3-5, TEV).
No matter what the future holds, they find hope and comfort in God’s blessings and promises: “God says, ‘I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as LORD. When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them … I will reward them with long life; I will save them’” (Ps. 91:14-16, Ibid.).
Most of all, the hope members of the Church Of Christ await is that on the day of Judgment they will be glorious like our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20-21) and will receive salvation and eternal life in the Holy City.
This hope of the members of the Church Of Christ will never fail because it is anchored on the promise of God (Heb. 6:19, 18). Thus they are instructed to hold fast because He who promised is faithful---He will not break His promised (Heb. 10:23); He does not lie (Num. 23:19); and He can do everything (Luke 1:37).
Rekindling their hope
Given the negative expectations and widespread pessimism around them, God’s people should keep their eyes focused and fixed on the promised eternal city and eternal life. In addition, the apostles remind them to fight the good fight of faith so that the world will not be able to take away their hope for salvation (I Tim. 6:12).
Whether various adversities or troubles are forthcoming or not, they should not give in to the lures and temptations of this evil world: instead, they should strive to obey God’s commandments (I Tim. 4:10). Obedience to His words---attending the worship service, sharing their faith to others, loving the brotherhood, among others---is a testament to their hope in God.
Indeed, they should not let their hope wane or diminish even in the most difficult circumstances. Rather, they should keep on putting their trust in God, fervently praying to Him so as to renew their strength and rekindle their hope: ‘ But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31, NKJV).
Their great fortune as heirs of God’s promises (Gal. 3:29) is more than enough to rekindle their hope amid hopelessness. And so, during these dark and difficult times in this increasingly dangerous world, they should choose hope over doubt, discord, and despair---and turn to God: “Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled/ I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him, my savior and my God” (Ps. 42:11, TEV/.
They should always remember that hoping in God’s eternal promises will help them dispel the misery and desolation around them. Thus they march into the future unbowed, unwavering-not fearing the days to come, even if many evils lurk in the shadows-and continuing to hold firmly to their hope. They should draw inspiration from the words of Apostle Paul who said: “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives …” (Heb. 6:19, Ibid.).