Dozens of Scriptures remind us that our hope is in Jesus. Our hope is in His salvation. Our hope is in Heaven and our eternal life with Him. Not this world. Not this life.
But sometimes (if we’re honest) it doesn’t always seem very comforting. When life is hard, we don’t always find hope in the thought of Heaven or eternity. We don’t always find ourselves longing for His appearing. And I think I know why… at least, some of the reasons.
Sometimes we get like some toddlers I’ve seen — miserable, upset, overtired, overwrought — and we WANT what WE want NOW. We want God to do what we think He should do right now. There’s no convincing us that any other solution could be better… no amount of reasoning or explaining. (In my experience, when we get in this state, our Heavenly Father usually lets us kick and scream ourselves out — and then when we’re ready, gathers us up in His lap and holds us close to His heart.)
I think some of us are afraid that it’s a cop-out. That if we focus on eternity and Heaven and spiritual things, we’ll lose our motivation to do anything that we could (and should) be doing here on earth.
I guess that’s possible. But if we’re really looking to Jesus (and not just giving up on life in a spiritual-sounding way), I don’t think He’ll have any trouble communicating to us when we need to get moving. His Holy Spirit can be very convicting.
Some of us may still be wrestling with some childhood fears, some misapprehensions or misunderstandings about what Heaven will be. (No, it’s not one great big never-ending church service or boring, uneventful Sunday afternoon.)
This is an easy fix. We can do our own study, or read some of the wonderful books about Heaven by authors such as Randy Alcorn and Joni Eareckson Tada that bring together all the Scriptures on the subject in one place, helping us truly understand the joy that awaits us.
And then, I think, some of us have forgotten (if we once knew) who Jesus really is and what it’s like to spend time with Him. What it’s like to experience His presence, and feel His love, His joy, His peace. We’ve forgotten what first drew us to Him and why we were willing to leave everything to follow Him – what it meant to us that He was willing to die for us. Did die for us. And how we were willing to do anything for Him.
We’ve forgotten all of His wonderful qualities – His attributes. And His miracles and mighty deeds –those recorded in Scripture and those we’ve witnessed ourselves.
No wonder we find it hard to trust Him. No wonder we find it hard to put our hope in Him. No wonder it doesn’t comfort us much to think of Heaven and His return.
For myself, I’ll confess I find that even now, every once in a while, there are times when Jesus and Heaven and spiritual things seem… distant. Far away. Blurry… hazy… unreal. Surreal.
I still believe everything; it just doesn’t always feel very real or comforting. Not as real or comforting as the TV. Or the Double-Stuf Oreos. Or the hours I fritter away on Facebook or online shopping or….
And that right there is the key. When Jesus doesn’t seem real to me, I usually know I’ve been feeding my flesh more than my spirit. I know I’ve been listening to the world, listening to my fears, listening to the enemy’s propaganda machine — more than I’ve been listening to the Word, listening to the Shepherd, listening to the Voice of Truth.
“The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with ‘other things.’” ~ John Piper
Again the fix is easy. Or rather, simple — though sometimes really hard to do.
Feed my spirit and not my flesh.
Choose to open my Bible, my devotional books, my prayer journal, instead of my internet browser. Choose to turn on praise and worship music instead of the TV. Choose to pray – and then go on about my day — instead of wringing my hands with worry.
One day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, loving, giving, serving. Looking forward with longing and anticipation.
Actively trusting, confidently hoping.
And resting. Resting in the knowledge of who He is and who I am in Him.
Resting in the love He has for me.
Sometimes I may face a little resistance from my flesh at first – it depends how long I’ve let things go on. (And sometimes I have to remind myself I’m not looking for a warm fuzzy feeling – those come and go.) But it’s incredible just how quickly everything comes back to me. All the reasons I decided to follow Jesus in the first place. All the things I’ve always loved about Him. And the new things I’m discovering all the time.
And this brings me back to where we started our summer Bible study five weeks ago – “Holding on to Hope: When Life Is Hard.”
How can we hold on to hope? The God of Hope fills us with hope, as we trust (not in particular outcomes or answers to prayer but) in Him.
How can we trust Him? We have to get to know Him.
Who is He?
He is the God of Hope. The One “who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Virtual VBS Assignment:
Can you believe this is the last week of our Virtual VBS for GrownUp Girls: Holding on to Hope… When Life Is Hard. ? If you’re participating, here are your instructions for this week:
If you’d like a journal prompt to help you remember all the reasons you first fell in love with Jesus, see my post Have You Told Him Lately That You Love Him?
Memorize: Click to download our free Memory Verse Printables. This week’s verse is Romans 15:13. There’s a graphic for it that has appeared in other posts (you can also find it on our VBS Pinterest board).