One of the most dangerous issues confronting people today is the lack of hope that pervades our society and culture. There is a growing segment of society that lacks an expectation that things will eventually get better.
Consider this, we live in the greatest country in the history of the world, we live at a level of comfort not previously seen in prior generations, and we enjoy more freedom than any society in history. Why then the lack of hope that is evident in the lives of so many?
The reasons can be many. Some would argue that it is inequality in all of its various forms that destroys the hope of people, but that issue is often more circumstantial than foundational. Yes, inequalities exist that sap our strength and diminish our expectations for the future. But those inequalities are not the foundational issue for people who lack genuine hope that the future will be brighter than the present.
Instead, the Bible tells us that it is something far greater than our present circumstances, however challenging they may be; because of our sin against God (Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1), we stand alienated from both God and the world, and as a result we are without hope (Ephesians 2:12).
According to the writer of Ephesians, our circumstances are the result of a lack of hope, not the cause of it. True hope is only found in Christ who reconciles us to God by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). By faith we are reconciled to God and able to persevere in this world despite our circumstances.
As Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives talking with his disciples after his resurrection, he gave them a final command to be witnesses of his resurrection and his gospel to the world (Acts 1:8).
With those parting words Acts tells us that he “was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of sight,” (Acts 1:9) thus completing the earthly ministry of Jesus. But this was not the end of the story.
As the disciples stood gazing into the sky, an angel informed them that this was not the end, for the one who departed would return in the same manner (Acts 1:11).
In other words, just as he ascended into the clouds, one day he would descend and return to the earth to dwell permanently with his people thus fulfilling the mission God had given him. This promise was the hope that energized the life of the disciples for the mission that lay before them. And that promise is what should motivate us as well. One day, Christ will return.
It will be a visible return, one that is apparent to all. It will be preceded by the archangel’s call and the trump of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Christ will be visible coming in the clouds and he will bring to resurrection all who have ever lived, delivering eternal condemnation to those who never repented of their sin, and eternal life to those who trusted in Christ through faith.
His return will bring about the restoration of all things as the curse of sin is finally and fully removed and the creation becomes new again (Romans 8:18-21).
When Christ returns, the circumstances that cause us suffering today will finally be dealt with once and for all. There will be no more inequality, there will be no more suffering, all things will be made new.
These promises were written down nearly 2,000 years ago, to counter the same problem that pervades our own society today – a lack of hope.
So, rather than dwelling on our present circumstances, we must look toward the future and the return of Christ when all things will be made right.
In the period while we wait, we must be vigilant, be sober and focused on the imminent appearing of our blessed hope and the revelation of the glory of God in Christ (Titus 2:13).
The Rev. Mike McClellan is pastor of Cross Roads Church, Southern Baptist Convention, in Poncha Springs.