“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 1:3)
I have always had a fascination of prisoner of war stories, and what it is that makes them have the capacity to endure such difficult circumstances. What is left when all is stripped away?
And time and time again, the answer for their endurance has always been hope.
In fact when the rugby team’s plane crashed in the Andes and the survivors were on the mountaintop for two months, they said hope was the thing that kept them alive. One man remarked that as soon as someone lost hope, they died very quickly thereafter.
Their sustenance was hope.
In another area of the world there was a missionary who shared the gospel with people. He was only there for a couple of weeks but many people believed. The problem was there was very hostile resistance to their receiving the gospel. It was deadly.
And what did they say sustained them?
“Endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 1:3).
I was listening to a message this week in which the speaker said that hope is like the side bumpers on a bowling alley. When we start to go the wrong direction, we run into it and it redirects us back on the path.
Hope is in fact one of the three of the greatest of virtues: Faith, hope and love (1 Cor 13:13).
For the Thessalonians the hope of Jesus Christ and the hope of eternity that he brought was their hope. Their lives were at stake trusting in Jesus. The future of their children was in His hands.
But for most of us as of yet we are not facing everyday death for our faith. But we still face everyday temptation to lose hope.
Lost hope it seem would look like despair, discouragement, etc…
But in our crazy, high-tech world, lost hope looks like something different as well.
It looks like misplaced faith.
When we lose hope that God will take care of us or provide for us, we trust and move towards making our own miracles. We labor and work and strive instead of trust and working as he leads.
Lost hope oftentimes leads to idolatry.
Not the idolatry of worshiping wood and stones, but the idolatry of putting our security in something or someone else. Because in a subtle way we’ve lost hope that God will take care of as we think He should.
It’s the first subtly of lost hope.
But hope renewed is rest.
Resting in Him that he is the Lord Jesus Christ.
And as such he
He calls us His friends
He suffered for our freedom
He loved us even when we were wretches
He cared enough to endure death for us
This is the place of rest.
To put our hope in Jesus.
For our lives.
And for our deaths.
Hope in Jesus, as the writer of Hebrews says, is our anchor (Heb 6:19)