by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
Our world aches for a soul-reaching peace that transcends all that’s frightening and hard. They yearn for unshakable hope that life won’t always feel so painful: that good awaits. People long for—need—everything we have in Christ, but I wonder if we convey that truth accurately, fully, and often enough. is it possible our words unknowingly point to a hope rooted in the temporary—the end of a virus, a better economy, or a transformed political system?
A few years ago, when our daughter spent eight months in North Carolina, she became painfully lonely. It wasn’t long before deep depression took hold. Needing to know how best to help her, I sought guidance from a counselor who reminded me of the power of hope.
To persevere through the hard, our daughter needed to anticipate what lay ahead. So we shifted our conversations with her significantly. While we did talk about coping tools, we focused primarily on counting down the days until she returned home. We discussed how we would celebrate when that happened; there was so much to look forward to. Her hope for home supplied the grit to endure.
This is true for our faith journeys as well. Our hope doesn’t lie in a better life today. Scripture tells us, numerous times, to expect the opposite. Many of us know this, but do our words reflect this truth?
Consider Paul’s letters to ancient believers living in dark times far worse than anything most of us will ever experience. He routinely reminded them to remain focused on heaven, where their true citizenship lay. His heart was firmly set on the joy that awaited all believers. His anticipation was contagious.
This is clear from his praise for the Thessalonian believers: “We give thanks to God always for all of you … remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV, emphasis mine).
Significantly, these believers came to faith amidst great persecution. After preaching in their city for a mere three weeks, Paul was driven out by a riotous mob. I imagine he was devastated at having to abandon the new believers in their fledgling understanding. Considering all they would likely suffer, they probably dominated his thoughts. His greatest fear? That the gospel message hadn’t truly stuck. But then he received word that these baby believers were thriving! “The word of the Lord sounded forth” from them, like a glorious, life-giving trumpet (1 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV).
What enabled these persecuted, fledgling Christians to flourish during such a dark and horrific time? It was knowledge that their pain wouldn’t last forever. They maintained an undeniable, unshakable, and indistinguishable hope in heaven.
We have the hope our world needs. May we proclaim it clearly, loudly, and often, because “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19 ESV).
That’s not to say we shouldn’t ask God to intervene or that we shouldn’t long for reprieve today. But may our proclamations regarding our eternal hope ring louder, because that’s where our ultimate hope lies.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain and inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away reserved in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.
In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.
Join the conversation: What are you anticipating in the future that gives you hope in the now?