WHY WE HAVE LOST HOPE
As many people say, we are a generation full of happy pictures and sad realities. We seem to be the most depressed generation despite many breakthroughs we have had financially, socially and technologically. Now we can travel faster with ease; we have tools that allow us to communicate and connect all around the world. And many more benefits than the generations before us and yet we are more unstable mentally. Why are we so sad? Why have we lost hope?
The Definition of Christian Hope
The Bible says, now these three abide, faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13 v 13). What exactly is hope? I don’t know if there are many like me who struggled with the definition of hope. For me the definition I would get would lead me back to my definition of Faith. Hope as defined simply by Google is a feeling of expectation and a desire for a particular outcome, positive obviously, a feeling of trust. And faith for me would also mean something quite similar.
Fortunately, I got to read an old book by C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity. It defined hope as the continual looking forward to the eternal world, not as a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but rather, something a Christian should hold on to. That definition was the point of revelation for me.
Reading the letters of the apostles with this new light made me realize that every time they talked about hope, they referred to the coming of Jesus Christ and the putting away of mortality. The hope they held on to was that their Lord is coming back for them, to take them to their heavenly home. They had their minds so occupied with Heaven, no amount of distress on earth could pull them down.
I do not think the same could be said about this generation though. Heaven to us, is something far away, a cherry on top. A wishful thinking. We dread the coming of Christ because to some it is like an obstacle. It’s in the way of our dreams and goals.
Why We Have Lost This Hope
I was listening to Esther Perel, a well renowned couples’ therapist. I don’t know if she is a Christian or not. But she said that the reason why marriage is so hard and the divorce rate in this age is so high is because we believe we can be happier. We pursue happiness more aggressively than those who were before us. From her analysis, in the days of old, people were content with the idea that total happiness is not for this age but the afterlife, whatever the religion.
God (in whatever religion) was the ultimate soulmate, but now our soulmate is this human being, from whom we expect stability, security, novelty, euphoria, mystery, familiarity and all these other needs for a lifetime. We all know, however, how impossible this is, for no man or woman could ever be all that. So, in other words, we are forever chasing and never finding.
This also holds true in our spiritual journey.
We now expect fulfillment in this life. The message we now believe is that we can be happy and fulfilled here on earth as much as we can in Heaven. We now hold on to this notion that we can bring Heaven down to earth.
Am I dismissing that God desires for us to be happy here on earth and that He will provide for all our earthly needs? By no means. This is what I mean. God is Spirit and so is the man He created in His own image. The needs of the spirit man will never be fully satisfied by the physical, but while we are on earth, the earth can only offer us the physical. This is torment to the actual man, the spirit.
You can have all the riches in the world to satisfy the flesh and the body. The spirit, however, is not easily appeased. It will forever search for its home, as it has been subjected to this in HOPE.
Romans 8:21 says that the whole creation, humans included, groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. This will only happen when Jesus comes back again. This is the HOPE of a Christian, and not just believing that things will get better tomorrow. It is this hope that gives us the strength to endure all forms of suffering, for we will then consider the present sufferings nothing compared to the future glory awaiting us.
Is This Wrong?
Unfortunately, we have become a generation that uses spiritual tools to obtain material possessions thinking we will finally be satisfied. We fast for days and nights for better cars and houses. We climb mountains to pray for God to get us married to this particular person.
Is there anything wrong with this? Definitely not. Jesus told us that if we have any need, we should ask for it from our Father who will be more than willing to do it for us. It is the energy that is concerning though. Our minds are so set on our lives here on earth, it occupies our thoughts, our intentions, and our prayers. We give more, only to receive the blessing of money. We pray harder only when we want something material and yet in the very verse we hold on to (Luke 11 v 9), Jesus went on to talk about God giving us the Holy Spirit when we ask of Him and this is for the growth of the spirit man.
This Growth Is In Preparation For Our Heavenly Home.
We have lost hope because we have now put our hope in a futile world and the things the world offers. Surely, we have gained all these but for most, it is to the detriment of their souls.
In Revelations 3:17, God rebukes the church that has now found comfort in all these earthly blessings like we are now. We measure spirituality by the abundance of earthly blessings and the riches we hold. Our eyes have now been fixed on what God can and should do for the physical man, rather than the spiritual man.
We say, “God should give me this house, God should give me this marriage, God should heal this sick body.” He can definitely do all that; but what will happen to us when He decides to put more focus on the spiritual man instead? When he begins to work on the character and we do not receive what we have prayed, fasted and seeded for in the time frame we expect?
We lose strength.
What happens when our loved one dies, or when we are faced with death? We are paralyzed with fear. And what happens even when we get all these things we desire? We will still get depressed because the real man is not fulfilled. It never will be satisfied by this vain and dying world.
What Christian Hope Does For Us
Now these are the benefits of holding on to this true hope. This hope will make us strong in abundance and in need, in pain and in joy.
- Romans 12 v 12 shows that in this HOPE we can rejoice even in tribulation.
- Galatians 5 v 5 shows us we wait eagerly in this HOPE, for us to be fully clothed in righteousness.
- 1 Peter 1 v 3 shows us that for this reason we were born again, to a living HOPE to an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled kept in Heaven for us.
This true hope will make us strong even when faced with the death of the physical man. For we know to die is gain because it means we will be with the Lord (Philippians 1 v 21-22). When our loved one dies, we do not grieve as those who do not have hope. We are fully convicted in our spirit that we shall meet again in glory (1 Thessalonians 4 v 13-18)
We have lost hope because we have taken our eyes from Heaven and focused on life on this earth. To be Heavenly minded does not mean to have our heads in the clouds or to forsake our work on earth, but it works rather like a paradox:
As Jesus said in Luke 17 v 33, “Who ever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
Those who seek Heaven will most likely make more positive impact on earth:
- People will give their all because they know they are storing up treasures in Heaven. Not just for returns on this earth.
- They will use their gifts wisely to the glory of God because they know that to enter Heaven, you have to do the will of the Father.
- They will help their friends, family and everyone around them to come to Christ because they also want them to have this same HOPE.
C.S Lewis goes on to say, ”I must keep alive in myself the desire of my true country, which I shall not find till death. I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it my main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”
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