What Hope Do You Have? If a man is without hope, he is like a walking corpse, without the will to continue living. Only with hope will we have the courage to continue living in joy. The following is a sermon transcription that that will hopefully help you to find True and Living Hope.
What Hope Do You Have?
(adapted from a sermon by Pr. Chin Aun Quek, Year 2011)
We need hope in life, especially when we are faced with various pressures as well as unrest in our environment. Only with hope will we have the courage to continue living in joy. If a man is without hope, he is like a walking corpse, without the will to continue living.
A university student once wrote in his will, “I will write on a single piece of paper. On the right side of the page, I have written down many reasons why I do not want to continue living. On the left side, I was going to list the reasons why I should continue living, but I do not know what to write. I do not even remember a single occasion when I have smiled from the bottom of my heart. I have only smiled bitterly and coldly. Most of the time, I just laughed in foolishness. I have lived without hope.” In the end he committed suicide. Even though he was alive, he did not have joy and did not know the reason to continue living because he was without hope. He felt that life was without meaning and chose to end his life.
What do we consider a valuable life? Is it one where we gain stature in society after graduating, obtain a doctorate degree, earn money and travel around the world, or get married and have children? Or is it one where we just eat, sleep, be merry, and then die?
When we were young, our teachers often asked us to write on the topic, “My ambition.” They wanted to know what our hope was and wanted ourselves to know what our hope is. One student actually wrote that his ambition was to become a president of a country. But when he grew up, he was often scolded useless by others. Perhaps we can have hope, but not everyone has the ability to fulfil his/her ambition or hope, especially when we are faced with uncertainty in the future. So what should we hope for?
So many natural calamities have happened these days, it has gone beyond our imagination. Before we could recover from last year’s calamities, we are faced with more this year. Even though we live in a seemingly peaceful society, free from natural calamities, we are still faced with unexpected possibilities. We may suddenly lose our job, our love, our health, and even our lives. Even though everyone hopes for things to be smooth sailing, we know that unhappy events still occur. At times like these, what more could we hope for?
Indeed life is full of sufferings and unexpected troubles which make us feel helpless and sad. We are not without hope, but each time we hope, it ends with disappointment. Naturally, when you hope for something but do not get it, you will be sad. But even after we have gotten what we wanted, we remain disappointed, because it no longer means much. Then we hope for something else and the same thing happens. It would seem that the greater your hope is, the greater your disappointment will be.
No one could hope like Solomon; who can proclaim that nothing was withheld from whatever his or her heart desires? Solomon had the wisdom and ability to obtain whatever he hoped for. So whatever he desired, he obtained. There was not a single pleasure he did not enjoy. He sought for the most meaningful and happiest thing in life, hoping for this and that. But in the end, he concluded that, “The whole of all my hands had done was vanity and grasping of the wind.”
A hope for things in this world will ultimately end up in emptiness. Even if you have obtained it, you need not be too overjoyed. Likewise, even if you did not obtain it, do not be too disappointed because all these things will come to nothing. They are like the grasping of wind.
But a Christian hope is different; it is known as a living hope.
1 Pet 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
Those of us who believe in Jesus have a living hope. There are two reasons why it is called a living hope:
(1) What we hope for is promised by God and He will definitely bring to fulfilment. Our hope will not be in vain.
(2) Our hope is in an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled. It does not fade away and is reserved in heaven for you. This is the hope of everlasting life.
The Lord Jesus tells us very clearly in John 5:24 that those who hear His word and believe in Him shall have everlasting life. They shall not come into judgment. Even though we may sin and the judgment of sin is death, the Lord wants to forgive us of our sins so that after death, we need not face judgment. This is why Jesus Christ said whoever believes in Him passes death into life; there is no need for them to face with judgement and be thrown into everlasting fire. Instead, they are allowed entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven to abide forever with God. This hope in everlasting life can be said to be the most important and precious hope in man’s life.
Why do I say that this is the most important and precious hope in life? Only when we know that we need not face judgement but is able to enter heaven after death, can we have true peace and joy in life. While we are alive and enjoying all the pleasures, there is the awareness that death will come one day. Once we start thinking of God’s judgment after death, we would not be happy. We start thinking of how all our wealth and earthly desires are temporary. In the end, we have to face God’s judgment. Knowing that we might be rejected from an entrance into everlasting life and sentenced to the lake of fire, how can we be happy and peaceful?
On the contrary, after one believes in Jesus Christ, even though one may suffer in poverty and sickness, there is still peace and joy in one’s heart. There is awareness that all these sufferings are temporary; after death, they rest from their worldly labours and return to their heavenly home. The hope in everlasting life is able to bring true peace and joy.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:1-2 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal… For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.
Like everyone else, Paul faced sufferings in life and owned a deteriorating body. He even mentioned having a thorn in the flesh, which suggests that he was physically handicapped. Even though he pleaded with God, God did not heal his sickness but said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul submitted to the will of God and endured all his sufferings. He never chose to end his life and we could tell that his heart was filled with joy. Why? It was because Paul had the hope of everlasting life.
He did not hope for what can be seen on earth because whatever we see here is temporary and will pass away. What he hoped for is the unseen and in heaven because that is everlasting. He described his body as being a tent, an earthly lodging. When we pitch a tent, we expect it to be used temporarily and for it to be taken down after. Our soul dwells in our body. Just as the tent will be taken apart eventually, our body will pass away. Then our souls will return to their everlasting home in heaven.
Paul is filled with joy whenever he thought of this. Even though his body was perishing and he faced various sufferings, the affliction was but for a moment. What awaits is the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Hence Paul was fearless even when faced with death. He remained at peace and filled with joy even when he faced with sufferings. Isn’t this the most important and precious hope in life?
Do you have this hope? How can you face the sufferings in life and death without this hope? Have you considered where you will go when this tent, your body, is eventually taken apart?
Nick Vujicic was a Christian born without limbs, except a small foot with two toes. His parents were Christians and did not understand why God gave them such a child. But they believed that God would help them and all the more treasured and protected Nick with courage. By the time he could understand things, Nick started questioning, “Why am I so different from others? Why was I born this way? Did my parents do something wrong, or did the fault lie with the doctors? Why do I have to face these sufferings? Do I have a future? Can I even go work? How should I continue living when my parents eventually leave me? Is it even possible for me to get married? Even if someone were willing to marry me, I would not even have the hand to hold my bride’s hand…” He became depressed and once contemplated suicide.
What helped him accept his plight was his Christian faith; reading the bible and listening to sermons brought him hope. He was full of faith in the bible, especially the words written by Paul, “All things work for the good to those who love Him.” Even though something bad had happened to him, but as long as he loved God, God will help him. God will turn something bad into something good for him. This is the hope that Christ has given us, that all things will work for our good, even evil things that are before us now. This hope totally changed his mind-set. He told himself, “I have the hope of Heaven and I have God as my strength. I am truly the child of God. Even though I am handicapped, I have peace and joy in my heart. I have the hope of everlasting life and my God will help me.” He was able to view his disability as a gift from God, to bear witness to God, and glorify Him.
Nick put in his utmost effort to learn how to write using the two little toes that he had on his left foot. He even learnt to swim. In the photographs I saw, he also tried horse riding and played football. Indeed his life was colourful. He currently holds two university degrees. In Year 2005, he received the Outstanding Youth Award from Australia. He goes around giving talks and testimonies in evangelistic meetings. He became the source of blessing and hope for other disabled individuals, especially those who were spiritually poor. When they felt depressed over their own physical handicap, witnessing Nick’s testimony, they could imagine how much sufferings he had to undergo since birth. Through the strength from Christ and His teachings, he was able to overcome all these difficulties.
Not only did he have the courage to continue living, Nick also led a very happy and colourful life. After the last earthquake in Sichuan, he went over to give support to and encourage the widows and orphans. He encouraged them to learn to accept sufferings, to face these sufferings courageously because Christ is our hope. He also gave talks in China’s universities. In Qinghua University, he spoke about his journey to success. One would have expected someone successful, not a physically disabled, to be the speaker. In his speech, he emphasised how one’s determines how far one would go. He said that the greatest handicap in life is not to be without limbs, but to be without hope.
It is clear that the hope of everlasting life is most important. Only then can you have joy and peace in life and the courage to continue living. As our Lord Jesus tells us in John 14:1-6, ““Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.””
Jesus knows that we will meet with troubles in our life. Indeed every household has their own problems, even Christian households. Christians likewise meet with sufferings, setbacks, and failures. But our Lord Jesus tells us not to be troubled even though we face troubles in our physical life. Why? Because we have hope in our hearts and it is a living hope given to us by our Lord Jesus. He has promised to give us everlasting life and to bring us home. He tells us, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” This is the Christian hope, the hope of everlasting life. It is because of this hope that we can endure the troubles that come our way; we do not give up, but have the courage to continue.
Every traveller has a destination in mind that he/she expects to be a beautiful place and is worth the sacrifice of travelling over long distances and enduring sufferings for. Tears may be shed along the way but they are wiped away. Injuries may occur but the wounds are tended to. Exhaustion may overcome the traveller but it is only momentary; a bit of rest allows him/her to continue the journey. There is this determination to move on because there is a hope for that which is true and beautiful. All of us are like travellers, heading towards the Kingdom of Heaven. We are but sojourners in this world, hence we ought not dwell or set our minds on this earth. Paul told us that our hope is not on the things that can be seen on this earth because the things that can be seen with the eyes are temporary. The unseen in heaven is eternal. Let us have faith to endure and finish this journey.
What journey? It is the way of knowing Jesus. Only by believing in Jesus can we return to our heavenly home. There is no other way. If we do not believe in Jesus, our sins will not be forgiven, and we face judgment after death. Sinners cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Only Jesus has the authority to forgive sins and give us everlasting life as He is the Lord of Life. In fact, He has proven this:
John 11:41-45 – Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.
Jesus resurrected Lazarus who had been dead for four days. When Jesus commanded them to take away the stones, Martha, Lazarus’ elder sister told Jesus, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” (v.39) Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
What glory of God did she see? They saw that Jesus is in fact God and has the authority over life. Jesus told Martha that, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (v.25) He promised us everlasting life. If Jesus was not the Lord of Life, He would not be able to give us everlasting life by resurrecting us and receiving us into the Heavenly Kingdom. Yet, we can be sure that His words are true. He manifested His authority so that the glory and authority of God over life could be seen. Lazarus was resurrected. John 11:45 records how many of the Jews, who had seen the things that Jesus did, believed in Him. They saw that Jesus is indeed the Lord of Life and they believed that Jesus can give us everlasting life.
Even though we were not present then to witness this event with our own eyes, there were eye witnesses. The apostles recorded this event down so that we can read it for ourselves and know that Jesus is indeed our Saviour. Only He has the authority to give us everlasting life. He is the Only Way, the Only Life, and the Only Truth. If we want the hope of everlasting life, to be spared from judgement, to enter into everlasting life, the only way is to believe in Jesus and accept Him as our Saviour. Let Him become our hope, as well as reliance, in life for our Lord Jesus will lead us throughout our entire life till we return to Heaven.
What hope do you have? Are you willing to receive this hope?