CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Hope in a Hopeless World

Oct 14, 2016

I don’t know about you, but in these ever-darkening days, things can seem overwhelming at times. The world is shaking, kingdoms are falling, faith is failing, and friends are disappearing. It seems everywhere we look a great darkness is enveloping the land.

Not only is the secular culture getting worse by the day, but so much of the church is caving in, selling out, and turning away from biblical truth and principles. It becomes difficult to stand strong when all around us everything seems to be crumbling.

Indeed, I just read this morning some words of Jesus in Matthew 24. They sure do seem to describe the current chaos and crisis we now find ourselves in. They seem perfectly relevant to today’s cultural, political and spiritual climate, at least in the West.

hope-1I refer to verses 9-13:

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Yep, it sure seems to be what we are now going through. And in such dark times, it is so easy to get discouraged, to become completely overwhelmed, and to be tempted to just give up. I know it is this way for me so much of late. Each new day seems to bring more evil, more calamity, more betrayal, more decline – and more hopelessness.

So I need to encourage myself. I need hope. So I write this piece primarily for myself, but if it is of help to others, then that is an added benefit. So all I want to do here is offer a few passages about hope, and then a few quotes about hope. I need all the help I can get to regain hope, so here they are, in no particular order:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3-4

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:7-8

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5

You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:114

Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.
Psalm 31:24

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:22

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
Hebrews 6:19

And here are just a few quotes by Christians on the topic of hope. Let them speak to you along with the passages offered above:

“Without Christ there is no hope.” Charles Spurgeon

“If God can bring blessing from the broken body of Jesus and glory from something that’s as obscene as the cross, He can bring blessing from my problems and my pain and my unanswered prayer. I just have to trust Him.” Anne Graham Lotz

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“Our righteousness is in Him, and our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us, but upon the fullness of grace and love in Him, and upon His obedience unto death.” John Newton

“You and I are unavoidably and irreducibly hope-based creatures. We are controlled not how we live now, but what we think will happen later. Christian hope has to do with the ultimate future, not the immediate.” Tim Keller

“The word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith.” John Calvin

“A Christian will part with anything rather than his hope; he knows that hope will keep the heart both from aching and breaking, from fainting and sinking; he knows that hope is a beam of God, a spark of glory, and that nothing shall extinguish it till the soul be filled with glory.” Thomas Brooks

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Anne Lamott

“As Christians, we have no reason to lack hope. Christ has shown the trustworthiness of God and of His Word.” Chuck Colson

“The best we can hope for in this life is a knothole peek at the shining realities ahead. Yet a glimpse is enough. It’s enough to convince our hearts that whatever sufferings and sorrows currently assail us aren’t worthy of comparison to that which waits over the horizon.” Joni Eareckson Tada

“Thanks be to God, there is hope today; this very hour you can choose Him and serve Him.” D. L. Moody

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity – hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory – because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.” J.I. Packer

“Hope is called the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19), because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simply a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made.” RC Sproul

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.” J. R. R. Tolkien

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.” Billy Graham

So be encouraged my friends and take hope. Christ IS our hope in a hopeless world. Hang on to that truth even when circumstances seem to tell another story. And given that this is an election year – at least in the US – some recent words of Max Lucado may provide some hope when it seems there surely is no hope in this appalling mess of an election:

We are really ready for this presidential election to be over. We’re ready for an end to the rancor and tackiness. Voters on both sides feel frustrated, even embarrassed by it all. There is a visceral fear, an angst about the result. What if so and so wins? When we wake up to November 9, post-election, when the confetti is swept away and the election is finally over, what will we see?
I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).

www.christianpost.com/news/max-lucado-prediction-presidential-election-170764/#FOQWIUHkrFjPwA0i.99

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15 Responses to Hope in a Hopeless World

  • Perfect, Bill! Thank you so much for being a hope-bringer in these days of trial and testing. God of Hope be with you and us all.

  • Amen. So much hope in God for each one who believes the Good News of Gods’ Son.

  • Thank you Bill for all of the encouragement in these scriptures. I also want to encourage you in all that you do. Some of us sit here around the world quite alone and often discouraged but for the hope that we have in God, and the recognition of your spirit speaking through your brave and insightful articles which show us we are indeed not alone. Some mornings before I go out into the world I am uplifted just knowing about like minded people such as yourself exist. So, although you expose the dark side of life, you also bring a lot of light into other people’s lives as well. Thank you again Bill. Shirley, England.

  • Thanks Mandy and Shirley.

  • Fantastic, Bill, I was contemplating submitting another piece to the ongoing debate on Donald Trump. I was going to suggest we take our focus off Trump and Clinton and “their race to the bottom”, and return our focus to the One who really matters in all of this. Bill, you have more than achieved it with this excellent essay. The only small addition that I would like to contribute, is the vision that The Apostle John received on the Island of Patmos. Rev. 1:12- 18, then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the midst of those lamp stands I saw one like The Son Of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His Head and His Hair were as white as white wool, white as snow; His eyes were like a flame of fire, His feet were like burnished bronze refined as in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and from His mouth came a sharp two edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining at full force. When I saw Him, I fel at His feet as though dead. But He placed His right hand on me saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last , and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades”. Bill, this is the God whom both you and I worship and serve. The Clintons & Trumps of this world will come go, but our Lord Jesus Christ will reign forever. Many many thanks again for penning such an encouraging article. God bless, Kelvin

  • Hi Bill, just another short comment, when I feel discouraged by what I see going on in our own country and the rest of the world. I turn to Matt. 28:18, and I quote; And Jesus came and said to them ” All Authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me”. He is the One I can come and talk to about anything, any time that I like, and I know that He has the authority to do some thing about it.

    Bill, just one other question, drawing on your many years as a working Theologian, how do you picture our country of Australia in another five years time, regards, Kelvin.

  • Ah yes, Romans 5 v 3-4 and Isaiah 40..some of my favourites! Bless you Bill. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. God is doing some serious shaking and people’s hearts are being exposed. And keep praying. God is listening.

  • Hi Bill, I’m sitting quietly in my lounge room meditating again, over your essay. I’ve read and re-read the last paragraph, and it says it all. On Nov.9th, Our God will still be on His’ Throne, and still in total control of this World’s affairs. Bill, this essay was real “food & drink” to me personally, and I dare say to many more of your contributors. I would greatly encourage you to give us more of the same when you have the opportunity. God Bless you, your family, and your Ministry, Kelvin.

  • Many thanks indeed Kelvin. Bless you.

  • Safe in the arms of Jesus,
    Safe from corroding care,
    Safe from the world’s temptations,
    Sin cannot harm me there.

    Free from the blight of sorrow,
    Free from my doubts and fears;
    Only a few more trials,
    Only a few more tears!

    Safe in the arms of Jesus,
    Safe on His gentle breast,
    There by His love o’ershaded,
    Sweetly my soul shall rest.

    Amen.

  • Thank you Bill for writing these lines on HOPE.
    Getting into you opening lines made me feel reluctant to keep going.
    Thinking, he picked the wrong title, this is all about darkness.
    But then a bright light flashed on as I got to the Bible quotes you choose to illustrate the hope we have in God.
    This article was well timed for me personally, it seemed that every thing I was reading lately was filled with darkness, in fact they are. Thanks again for switching on a few lights.
    Bill Heggers. Bridgetown W.A.

  • Thank you Bill for taking the time to share all this beautiful scripture. It is constantly amazing to me how powerfully God works through His word to renew our hope, courage, perseverance and strength. I really am encouraged by all the scripture included in your posts.

  • Shirley – your comment above touched my heart – yes we often feel “quite alone” as we go out to face each day in the world, but I, like you, am encouraged when reading Bill’s articles and the many faithful believers who post comments. Now I do not feel so alone. I believe that God raised up this site “for such a time as this” knowing that many of His people would feel quite alone during these last days of HisStory.
    And Thaddeus, many thanks for sharing that beloved hymn. During especially hard days, I sing aloud the old hymns to get back on focusing on heavenly things which makes the earthly trials pale. How we long to see His blessed face, and He will wipe away our tears.

  • Thank you so much for this article that was such an encouragement to me. Not only am I increasingly aware of the darkness around the world, but I struggle with the great darkness within my family … nonetheless, I choose life! I choose to trust Jesus. For me, the important thing is to focus on one day at a time, and one verse at a time. This helps to steady me. I am praying for you that the Lord will be your glory and the lifter up of your head.

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