If someone asked you, “What is God doing right now?” what would you answer? I am afraid that many of us are confused when it comes to the present benefits and activity of Jesus. We get that we have been forgiven and we understand that we have eternity with him in our future, but we’re not sure what the agenda is in the here and now. Because we don’t understand what God has committed himself to in the present, we are tempted to question his wisdom and doubt his love. Our problem is not that God is inactive or that he has abandoned us, but that we are not on his agenda page. Left with confusion about his plan and carrying with us unrealistic expectations, we get disappointed and a little bit cynical, and we quit running to him for help. It is a bit of a spiritual mess.
The answer to the big question we have proposed is really quite easy and straightforward. What is God up to right here, right now? Redemption! He is actively working on sin’s final defeat and our complete deliverance. He is working out the spoils of the victory that Christ accomplished on the cross of Calvary. Listen to the encouraging words of 1 Corinthians 15:25–26: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Now, you and I need to understand two things in these words that answer our question. What is God doing? First, he’s reigning! No, your world is not out of control. No, the bad guys are not going to win. No, sin will not have the final victory. Because your world is not out of control but under God’s careful redemptive control, you can have hope even when it looks to you as if darkness is winning the day.
What is God doing? This passage gives a second answer. He is putting the enemies of his redemptive purpose under his feet. He will crush enemy after enemy until the last enemy, death, is defeated. He will not sit down, he will not rest, he will not relent until sin and death are completely defeated and we are finally and forever delivered. Hope right here, right now doesn’t rest in your understanding or strength, but in the sin- and death-defeating rule of the King of kings and Lord of lords. His reign is your present protection and your future hope.
We Can Rest
Hope is more than wishing things will work out. It is resting in the God who holds all things in his wise and powerful hands.
We use the word hope in a variety of ways. Sometimes it connotes a wish about something over which we have no control at all. We say, “I sure hope the train comes soon,” or, “I hope it doesn’t rain on the day of the picnic.” These are wishes for things, but we wouldn’t bank on them. The word hope also depicts what we think should happen. We say, “I hope he will choose to be honest this time,” or, “I hope the judge brings down a guilty verdict.” Here hope reveals an internal sense of morality or justice.
We also use hope in a motivational sense. We say, “I did this in the hope that it would pay off in the end,” or, “I got married in the hope that he would treat me in marriage the way he treated me in courtship.” All of this is to say that because the word hope is used in a variety of ways, it is important for us to understand how this word is used in Scripture or in its gospel sense.
Biblical hope is foundationally more than a faint wish for something. Biblical hope is deeper than moral expectation, although it includes that. Biblical hope is more than a motivation for a choice or action, although it is that as well. So what is biblical hope? It is a confident expectation of a guaranteed result that changes the way you live. Let’s pull this definition apart.
If you’re God’s child, you never have to live hopelessly.
First, biblical hope is confident. It is confident because it is not based on your wisdom, faithfulness, or power, but on the awesome power, love, faithfulness, grace, patience, and wisdom of God. Because God is who he is and will never, ever change, hope in him is hope well placed and secure.
Hope is also an expectation of a guaranteed result. It is being sure that God will do all that he has planned and promised to do. You see, his promises are only as good as the extent of his rule, but since he rules everything everywhere, I know that resting in the promises of his grace will never leave me empty and embarrassed. I may not understand what is happening and I may not know what is coming around the corner, but I know that God does and that he controls it all. So even when I am confused, I can have hope, because my hope does not rest on my understanding, but on God’s goodness and his rule.
Finally, true hope changes the way you live. When you have hope that is guaranteed, you live with confidence and courage that you would otherwise not have. That confidence and courage cause you to make choices of faith that would seem foolish to someone who does not have your hope. If you’re God’s child, you never have to live hopelessly, because hope has invaded your life by grace, and his name is Jesus!