Ministry Resources

Maintaining Hope

In the poet Dante’s Inferno, he describes the gates of hell. The sign over the gates says, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter in.”

None of us knows the full and final answer to suffering. God may not reveal to us the why of our problems, but He asks us to believe that every one of them has a purpose to work out that which is best for us. And we who know and love the Lord have this blessed hope: this life is like a race that we are running, and the end of the race is not death—death will just carry us across the threshold into life everlasting! What a glorious hope!

This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven, where Christ has gone ahead to plead for us from his position as our High Priest (Hebrews 6:19-20 Living Bible).

We do not know what the future holds for us in this life. But we do know who holds our future, and He has revealed to us that in Him there is hope! In this lesson we will consider what the Scriptures say about the hope of the Christian, and we will look at ways of maintaining hope. One day all of our problems will be behind us, and we will be ushered through the gates of heaven where Jesus Christ is our eternal hope!

Through Christ The Overcomer

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ through His death and resurrection overcame the power of sin and death. In His life He overcame the temptation of His enemy, the devil. By His power we, too, can be over comers.

Jesus Is triumphant over death and Hades (hell). When John, the writer of the book of Revelation, saw Jesus, he fell at His feet as though dead. Jesus spoke, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Jesus, rose from the dead after His crucifixion and burial. He appeared to His disciples and friends several times, and to more than 500 of His followers at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

According to the words of Jesus, those who live and believe in Him will never die. Jesus used the occasion of the raising of Lazarus from the dead to give this teaching. His words to Martha at that time are words that bring comfort and hope to every believer: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

It is clear from the teaching of Scripture that those who love Christ never die—they merely change location. They depart from their temporary dwelling here (their physical body) and are immediately in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8). Because Christ has overcome death and the grave, we have an eternal hope that is steadfast and sure—the hope of eternal life in heaven with Him.

Knowing what Christ has done for us, and knowing that when we depart this life we shall be forever with Him, gives us a hope that sustains us in the darkest hours of our life.

Through Affirmation

Confession, or affirmation, is also very important in maintaining Christian hope. The person who sees only the dark side of life, the problems and testings, and talks about them constantly, is bound to be discouraged and fearful. But the person who recognizes God’s power to help him in every circumstance, and who talks about the many blessings and good things God has done in his life, will have hope even in the most difficult circumstances.

Sometimes all we can see is the problem we are faced with. I have a friend who has helped me many times when I have had difficult problems to deal with—by reminding me of how wonderfully God has helped me in similar situations in the past, and of all the blessings He has showered upon me over the years. When we think of His goodness and all of the promises He has given in His Word to be with us and keep us, our faith grows strong and we can be victorious in any trial.

Review God’s Promises 

1.His promises are unfailing (1 Kings 8:56).

2.He has the power to do what He promises (Romans 4:21).

3.He promises deliverance (Psalm 34:19-20).

4.He promises to be with us (Isaiah 43:2).

5.He promises that our prayers will be answered (Mark 11:24).

6.He promises that our faith will be honored (Luke 17:6).

7.He promises blessings to those who give liberally (Proverbs 3:9-10, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:6).

8.He promises to be with those who are obedient (John 14:23).

9.He promises to come to the aid of those who seek Him (2 Chronicles 7:14, Luke 11:9).

10.He promises eternal life (1 John 2:25, James 2:5).

These are but a few of the many promises contained in God’s Word. Find each one in your Bible and read it. As we review His promises, our hearts are encouraged to trust Him, and we can’t help but affirm, “What a mighty God we serve!” No wonder the prophet Micah, after reviewing God’s promise to Israel, “As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders” (Micah 7:15), responded with these words of affirmation:

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19).

One of God’s most beautiful promises is given in Psalm 91. In this Psalm He promises His protection against all the forces of evil that would seek to harm us.

Consider Biblical Examples 

There are many biblical examples of positive affirmation in the face of great difficulty. By positive affirmation I do not mean claiming that something is different from what it actually is. I mean recognizing the goodness of God and His power to help in every situation—His power to deliver us from the evil one, to protect us in times of danger, to comfort us in our sorrow. This affirmation is based upon what God has already done, and our belief that He will continue to act in the future as He has done in the past.

In Habakkuk 3:17-19, the prophet makes this affirmation of trust in God:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights. (Italics mine)

One of the greatest statements of affirmation in the Bible is found in Psalm 23. King David was a man who knew joy and sorrow, victory and defeat, safety and danger. Many times he had to run from his enemies. He knew what it was to sin against God and receive forgiveness. His was a troubled life, filled with turmoil, grief, persecution, regrets, doubts, and opposition. The Psalms are filled with his cries to the Lord for help and mercy. But Psalm 23 is one of the most positive statements of affirmation found in the Bible. It speaks to many areas of life where we need the Lord’s help.

Through Faith

Maintaining hope depends upon a strong faith in God. Hebrews 11 is called the faith chapter of the Bible. In verse 1 we read these words: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Read all of Hebrews 11. The first part of this chapter records the victories won by men and women who had great faith in God. Their faith revealed the power of God working through their lives.

Therefore, these people were not commended because they were victorious over their enemies, but because they were sure of what they hoped for but had not seen (v.1). And what did they hope for? God’s promise of eternal life with Him in heaven! Note that the experiences of these men and women of faith were each unique. No two of them experienced the same things. It is from their various trials and victories that we can see the hand of God working in their lives, and we can have faith that He will work in our lives in a similar way.

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis discusses the uniqueness of each soul. He suggests that if God had no use for the differences between us, He would not have created more than one soul. We are the temple of God (2 Corinthians 6:16). God dwells within you, and within me. I am His temple. God knew me before I was born (Psalm 139:13-16). I am wondrously made by Him. I was created for His pleasure. All my life, my heart has been yearning for Him, and yet I only catch brief, momentary glimpses of that which is contained within the divine nature (1 Corinthians 13:12). We can only speculate as to the wonderful things He has prepared for us in our heavenly home. But is it not possible that in my earthly trials, tears, joys, sufferings, and victories God is forming me in such a way that I will be able to fill a unique place in His kingdom? Is it not possible that my own assortment of experiences, good and bad, has revealed God to me in a way known and understood only by me? Is it not possible that each Christian is being given, through his own unique experiences in this life, knowledge of a particular facet of God which only he can fully comprehend?

C. S. Lewis suggests: “Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.” He further concludes that if everyone experienced God in the same way and worshipped Him in an identical way, “the song of the church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note” (1976, pp. 132-142).

In Revelation 2:17 these words are written to the church: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it”

Think of it! The reward for being an overcomer in this life is a new name known only to God and to me! That name perhaps is a symbol between God and me of all that I am, all that I have suffered, all the victories I have won, all that I have become through the power of Jesus Christ working in me! It will represent my own personal fellowship and communion with my Creator, which will he different from that of all other overcomers. What a glorious thought that in heaven, our communication with the saints of all the ages, including those men and women of great faith listed in Hebrews 11, will include the sharing with each other of God’s revelation of Himself to us! As I share with you, and you share with me, each of us will receive a greater comprehension of our wonderful God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we are told, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” When I think of the wonderful things God has prepared for us, my faith is made strong, and I can accept whatever trials and difficulties He leads me through in preparation for my eternal place with Him. In John 14:1-3, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

The apostle Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face.” Now our hearts long for full communion with our Savior—in heaven that communion will be complete. Revelation 1:7 tells us, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.” When that day comes, I shall see Him with my own eyes, and not through the eyes of another. Until then, my faith will keep me sure of what I hope for, and certain of what I do not see.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. —Hebrews 10:32-39

As a conclusion to your study of this book, can you not say, with me, the words of this poem?

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Earth’s trials will seem so small, when we see Him. One glimpse of His dear face all sorrows will erase, So bravely run the race, till we see Him.

—Written by Esther Kerr Rusthoi, copyright by Singspiration, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Used by permission.)