Be encouraged: we have hope
‘Hope is a future worth having’, said a board member of Ethembeni HIV & TB Ministry. The Thessalonian believers expected the imminent return of the Lord Jesus while still alive, but were deeply distressed about those believers that have died already. What about them? Paul deals with their concern. He explains the hope we have in Christ, so that they can be comforted and can encourage one another. We do have a future worth having.
Biblical hope is a ‘strong and confident expectation’ (JH Keathley). Our hope is based on, rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and with that the certainty of His return (v 14). We are then shown aspects of the content of our hope. He will return for us, we will be re-united with Him and with one another, and we will together be with Him always (verses 16, 17). This is the glorious hope we have; it really is a future worth having. Ephesians 2:12 reminds us that if we are ‘without Christ’ then we do not have this hope. Jesus said in John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, …”.
However, the hope we have goes beyond just comfort for what the future holds when we die. It should change how we live in the meantime in this world with its brokenness and challenges; how we deal with and cope with its dreadful painful realities. This is best explained in the words of Scripture itself:
‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people.
It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and
to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope
in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. [Tit 2:11-13 NET]’
I love how JH Keathley describes it: ‘The Christian life, if it is grasped according to God's truth, is a magnificent obsession with an eternal hope, a hope that does not lead to an escapist attitude, but to the pursuit of life on a whole new dimension.’
Let us therefore do as Paul said, and encourage one another with the hope we have: a future worth having!
To think about:
What could God be telling you to do regarding someone who does not yet have this hope?
Who can you encourage today by reminding them of the hope we have in Jesus Christ?
Writtren By: Hannes Mentz, part-time consultant with Ethembeni HIV & TB Ministry and missionary.