Over the last couple of months we have been considering the subject of hope. Hope is an essential component of meaningful life, but it is important to ask questions about the nature of our hope. Last time we noted that our hope needs to be realistic to guard us against disappointment and frustration; this time we want to consider another vital question: Is our hope real or an illusion?
From this basic question flows a number of related queries. Is our hope based on fact or fantasy? Is our hope real or imaginary? Who or what are we following, and do they have the ability to deliver on their promises and fulfil our hopes?
The pages of history are littered with the shattered hopes of individuals and nations who followed charismatic leaders, who promised much but ultimately led their followers along a path to ruin. Current affairs programmes regularly feature the stories of people who hoped to set up their own business or make a fortune by investing their resources in some financial scheme only for their dreams to turn into nightmares. Sadly, their hopes were built on shaky foundations and unsound promises.
What about the Christian hope? Is it a fairy tale, a beautiful daydream that is too good to be true?
No, because the hope offered by the Christian faith is based upon the person of Jesus and his promises. During his earthly ministry Jesus made many promises, all of which he kept. He said that he would give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45), and that is precisely what he did when he died on the Cross on Good Friday. He said that he would rise from the dead (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34), and despite the best efforts of his enemies that is precisely what he did on the morning of Easter Sunday.
Jesus also promised that he would return to take his followers to heaven to live eternally with him, and his return is described in the Bible as “the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ ” (Titus 2:13). Because he has kept other promises, we can have confidence that he will keep his word to come back.
Jesus is reliable and his word is trustworthy, hence the Christian hope is reliable and not an illusion. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)