“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And earth life is God’s season of hope for man — a time when man looks to but sees not the reward his Maker has promised. “Hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth” (Romans 8:24). It is “now,” Paul writes, that hope “abideth” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Hope abides when there exists both the reality of a reward and the longing expectation of man’s heart. Take away the mansions in heaven or the assurance of man’s faith — and hope no longer remains for Christians. Hope combines man’s expectant trust with God’s faithful promises. Hope therefore abides because:
God abides. The Christian’s hope is contingent on the very being of God Himself. Eliminate God and hope is as fleeting as a vanishing mirage. Hope is in the Almighty God Who raised Jesus from the dead, in the abiding God Who is “from everlasting to everlasting” (1 Peter 1:21; Psalm 90:2). If God is dead, as the modernists gleefully proclaimed in the ‘60s, then Christians are as the Gentiles once were — “without hope” because they are “without God” (see Ephesians 2:12). It is, however, the image of God the modernists created in their finite minds that died in the ‘60s. God, as His Son whom He raised, is the “First and the Last” and, as His Son, is alive forever more (see Revelation 1:8, 17–18). The Almighty abides to bring forth from the graves men’s vile bodies; to resurrect them unto the likeness of His own Son (see Philippians 3:20–21).
God promised. Hope is likewise based on the promise of God. He it is Who announced through Jesus, “great is your reward in heaven” and “in my Father’s house are many mansions” (Matthew 5:12; John 14:1–2). One writer directs Christians to the time of Abraham to assure them that hope abides as an anchor of the soul — both “sure” and “steadfast” (Hebrews 6:13–19). Abraham hoped in God for years that he would receive a seed and become a great nation. The father of many nations neither staggered nor wavered in unbelief but in “hope believed against hope” (Romans 4:18–20). Despite his own old age and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, the certainty of that hope was secured in the patriarch’s mind by the promise of God, a promise God combined with an oath. Because of two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie — His promise and His oath — Abraham waited patiently and the promise was fulfilled. The hope was as sure as God’s promise.
God is faithful. God, it is clear, must be true to both Himself and His word. Man’s lack of faith does not affect the faithfulness of God. Though every man be found a liar — “let God be found true,” Paul argues (Romans 3:3–4). In the whole of revelation from the promise of a redeemer to the promises to Abraham and to Israel, God has shown man He “will in no wise fail” him and “will in no wise forsake” him (see Hebrews 13:5). Abraham became a mighty nation, Israel inherited a land, and the world received a redeemer because God can neither deny Himself nor His word. Because God is faithful hope abides. Man believes. Despite the Being, promises, faithfulness, and rewards of God, hope abides only when man by faith holds in his heart the “the assurance of things hoped for” and the “conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Moses, as Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, was by faith convicted “of things not seen” and, as a result, “looked unto the recompense of reward” (Hebrews 11:26). Moses relinquished the pleasures of sin because of faith; the leader of Israel suffered affliction with the people of God because of faith; the lawgiver gave up sin and endured ill-treatment because of faith — a faith that saw the invisible, unseen reward God had promised. When man’s faith is united with God and His word — hope abides. Jesus opened the way unto heaven through the veil of His flesh by His resurrection from the dead and His ascension to God’s right hand (see Hebrews 10:19–20). We who know God believe in His Being and His word and have confidence in that unseen reward He has promised. Amidst this earthly scene (the season of hope), hope abides in the patient, expectant hearts of believers; it is that abiding hope that anchors Christians, binds them to purity, moves them to fruitfulness, and upholds them in affliction (see Hebrews 6:18–19; 1 John 3:3; Colossians 1:5–7; Hebrews 11:24–27). — By L. A. Stauffer