Reason to Hope
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14-16)
When the world seems to be falling apart, people seek hope. They are looking for something to hold on to, anything that will help them get through their crisis. They are looking not only to weather the storm but to find themselves in an even better place than they had been. Hope is a powerful motivator and comfort, enabling us to survive and endure while we wait for the better days to come.
We are currently experiencing a crisis that is truly worldwide, one that we never anticipated and one for which there seems to be no solution. Many people in this country and in others around the world face severe restrictions on their activities in order to prevent the spread of disease, yet with no idea of how long these will last or how well they will do their job. That open-ended uncertainty is leading many to lose hope and to seek their own way out this crisis.
When people turn to the authorities for hope they get none. Here in the Northeast, one governor tells us that we have no idea how long we must remain in our “lockdown,” but he doesn’t expect it to end anytime soon. Another governor told us that God has no hand in bringing us relief from this disaster; it is entirely our own doing. While that may sound promising from a humanistic perspective, we see daily reminders of just how badly people violate rules if they don’t wish to follow them. We don’t know what will happen or when it will happen.
In contrast, Christians are hopeful even through this pandemic, as we have been through other disasters, both natural and manmade. Our hope is not in a timetable or a clever solution, nor is it in the goodness or discipline of human beings, but in Jesus Christ. We know from our own experiences and from our study and trust in the Bible that God is in control, Jesus is the King, and the Holy Spirit is with us to help us through every tribulation. Our hope is not bound to an earthly resolution, as much as we would like to live here in peace and comfort, but is focused on our relationship with Christ and on our future eternal home with Him.
Many who are not Christians see this as a hope without a foundation, a “pie in the sky by and by” wish that simply ignores reality. The Bible makes it clear that the Christian hope is anything but unreasonable. In fact, Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 that we are always to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Our hope is not mere whim but is founded on a reasonable foundation. It is important for us to know not only who but why we believe and to be able to express that as we encounter those who question why we are able to remain hopeful in every situation.
The world tries to hold out hope to humanity in many ways. There are promises that a stronger government, better education, more affluence, or learning to get along will make the world a better place. These solutions sound sweet but never manage to provide the kind of world we hope for very long. While the world makes these promises, people continue to look for genuine hope for their future. If they can’t provide that hope, they at least want to keep others from looking for it in what they consider to be wrong places.
The reason that the world cannot satisfy our hopes is that our hopes were not meant for this world. Only in Jesus, who through His death and resurrection brings us back into the relationship with God we were created to have, can we find the hope that our heart instinctively craves. That is why we can have a reason to hope no matter our personal circumstances. Our hope is in the One who created and saved us and our eternal destiny is the one for which we were created.
While this hope can provide us with peace and satisfaction for our own lives, it is not meant to be hoarded. We aren’t to be like the people who went out in a frenzy at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown to buy up all the toilet paper and paper towels they could find so they would have enough for themselves. Our hope is meant to be shared, especially with those who have questions about how we can remain hopeful in this world. We are to defend our faith and hope, but do it in such a way as to win over those who both hear our words and see the way we live.
Too many Christians give their reasons for believing in Jesus in a harsh, judgmental manner that is more likely to make people wonder why Christians are so stubborn and nasty than why we are able to live at peace in a storm. The world uses the weapons of insult, anger, and emotional appeals to make its case against God. We cannot use those same weapons against them; Peter tells us to be gentle and respectful. Our hope is founded on truth and it is that truth towhich we appeal when we present our reasons for hope in Jesus. The Holy Spirit will do the rest of the convicting and convincing.
We have an excellent reason to have hope even as we journey through a world that seems hopeless. We have a hope that the world needs, one we need to let them know. Our reason may face unreasonableness, our hope may face fear, our gentleness may face harshness, but through all we face we can stand firm in our trust in our Savior and Lord. You may be asked why you are so hopeful in a time like this. Be ready with your answer!
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