Real Life Turning on Hope
All of life turns on what we think of God, in fleeting moments. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our actions start with a subtle two-step of trust and hope. A common example:
A husband (OK, you got me - me) is feeling mildly resentful about something his wife said or did (which for the life of me I cannot remember now exactly what it was). Their normal practice is to hug and kiss before he leaves each morning. But this morning he/I have had enough - I’m just leaving.
At this moment, I’m being controlled by something - a desire for justice or self-righteousness or maybe honor. Unless that control is broken, it will only grow and caustically eat away at the marriage. Bitterness grows gangrenously in such little moments, in the shadow of disappointment at God for not giving us now the good things we desire.
Then I remember: Jesus is returning soon. (Little moments only have room for simple theology.) On that day, his justice will fill the earth perfectly; I will fully experience his perfect righteousness; and I will be glorified and honored in his glory. This doesn’t solve everything, but it moves me enough to turn around, walk back in the house, and hug and kiss and affirm love to my wife.
How can I “believe this enough”, in this moment, such that this hope controls and changes me, just enough to weakly love? “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Faith remembers Jesus, and thinks with the logic of the cross: “What then shall we say to these things? [Let “these things” include whatever you face today.] He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32) “All things” are coming. The Father giving the Son in love for me is my proof.
Proof leads to assurance, enough assurance that I can shift weight onto God’s promise of His Son’s soon return. Often we speak of conviction in terms of sin - “I’m convicted of pride”. Yet what we need even more is to be CONVINCED of our Father’s past, present, and future love for us, in His Son Jesus. In this conviction we have strength to hope. And in this hope we are changed, to move however weakly in the direction of love. Where bitterness previously reigned, God reigns, creating life.