The psalmist asked himself a question that many have asked. He received God’s answer. His question was, “Why am I depressed?” God’s answer was because he had no hope! Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
What is this thing called hope? And why is it so important for men and women? Hope can be defined as an eager expectation of fulfillment of a future blessing. When people hope they are expressing trust in or reliance upon the one whom they believe will bring fulfillment. The definition of hope expresses our need to have it. Without hope, we wander aimlessly in life and are tossed around by every one of its circumstances. When we see no future, we naturally get depressed.
There are many expressions of hope. For example, one of my hopes is that my fellow citizens will think critically, especially when irrational or unsubstantiated statements are made. I also hope that we all will examine accomplishments rather than be impressed by rhetoric. We can all remember one who promised “hope and change” yet brought disaster in the form of a change and division that none of us wanted.
Like the hopes mentioned, there are endless arrays of temporal hopes. My hope of a thinking electorate may not come to pass. Yet, knowing that this hope is temporal I will remain positive because I have an ultimate hope which is eternal.
What is this eternal, ultimate hope? Reasonable people know that there is more to life than what is seen. This is not all there is, answering an old ballad. And as there is more to life than this world, there is a greater hope than our political, economic, or personal relationships can offer. It transcends this world and is far above and apart from it.
Ultimate hope is transcendent. No man can give it. In fact, we cannot even give it to ourselves. Only the transcendent being, God can give ultimate hope. The transcendent God, the one who spoke and created everything out of nothing said that ultimate hope is eternal glory. The Apostle Paul writing God’s words said “the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to His saints” is ultimate hope. He wrote this clear description. Ultimate hope is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
It follows that God’s revelation of hope raises at least two questions. The first is easy to understand. Who gives ultimate hope? Clearly, God gives ultimate hope. The second is perhaps easy to see but strikes at the heart of man’s ability. To whom does God give ultimate hope? The former passage declares that ultimate hope is revealed to God’s “saints.” Now, it is necessary to understand what God meant by the word “saints.” Who are saints?
At this point, clarity is essential. Saints are not those who have departed this life and have been determined by some religious body to be holy people. Saints are those who have been set apart by God. Saints in the Bible are those whom God has chosen to be his.
A plain reading of Scripture allows us to see that God chose: a man, Genesis 12; a nation, Deuteronomy 7; and both Jews and Gentiles, Galatians 3. The fact of God’s choosing individuals to be his saints is declared by Apostles Paul and Peter, Romans 9-11 and 1 Peter 2.
I have often asked myself why something so clear can be so confusing to some. The only answer that I can reasonably offer is that we do not like to think that God must choose us. We rather like to think that He needs our help in selecting the “right” people. However, it is only necessary to know what God thinks and has said.
The Bible’s clarity on this issue of ultimate hope and its recipients is the greatest comfort and assurance any man or woman can have. Since God gives it no man can take it from you. Much more should be said concerning God’s gift of eternal hope and Lord willing will. But in the interest of space and emphasis in this article I want to leave all who read it with this: God gives ultimate hope, which is eternal glory, to those whom he chose to be in Christ.
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is the pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church.