14 Sept 2021
More than ever before, the current situation in the world, with the ongoing ‘uncontrollable’ pandemic, the calamities due to climate change and further future threats of more ‘destruction’, the hostilities between nations and the ravages of war and conflicts (seen in children dying of hunger, populations displaced, poverty, millions losing homes and basic amenities), results in a sense of hopelessness, discouragement and depression. It is clear to many that things will not get better but they will certainly become worse.
As Christians, we know that God made us creatures for whom hope is life, and whose lives become living deaths when we have nothing good to look forward to. We also know that those without Christ are without God and without hope, living in a context that is destined to grow darker and colder (not a matter of our own opinion but a clear revelation from God in Scriptures).
The alternatives for those without Christ are 1) false hopes: happiness through having things and pursuing materialism, endless good health and physical well-being?, philosophies based on spiritism, ideologies which ultimately prove unsatisfying and unrealistic; 2) total pessimism and a giving up of life itself.
But the Christian life is essentially a life of hope, a life in which there is no perfection as yet, but a life with the hope of perfection set before us (Revelation 21:4-5). Such a hope helps us to forget what is behind us and to look forward to and to reach out to what lies ahead of us. This is how Apostle Paul described it: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
It is no wonder that he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain the flesh is more necessary on your account” (Philip. 1:21-24).
Scholars wrote that Paul used a beautiful euphemism for death, employing a Greek word whlch itself contains a metaphor – to loose anchor. Paul speaks as if he expected to be with Jesus at death without an interval – it describes a ship’s departure after loosing the anchor (“to depart and be with Christ”).
In the midst of the ‘tribulations’ (and Scriptures reveal that through much tribulations, we shall enter the kingdom of God), we tend to forget that we are citizens of heaven and pilgrims on this earth – for believers, there are two worlds not just one, two lives not just one and heaven is more important than earth, for heaven’s life is the goal and destination for which this life on earth is the preparation.
Keeping this in mind and being convicted of this truth, we shall not lose hope. Today, we see a great deal of pessimistic hopelessness on the part of the people who feel they have seen through the false hopes of society and now have no hope at all. We must speak boldly and clearly about the glory of the Christian hope. We also ought to live as people who have a living hope and not go through life like those who have no God and no hope. As Apostle Paul puts it: “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2Corin. 4:1).