We don’t think about the future. I mean, we do. We think about our plans for the future. But we don’t put our fullest trust in the future. It’s hard to feel a deep-seated and solid joy in something that seems so uncertain. It’s hard enough to trust the hope we place in present-day realities – a hope that so frequently seems to disappoint us. How can we place our hope in something that is essentially a mere idea?
“Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?”1 Here, Paul is telling us: If we can see something, we can’t hope in it. If we hope in something, it must be unseen. “Unseen” does not mean “uncertain,” though. You can still be certain of something you cannot see. (This is faith: being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.2) Hoping in something unseen means rather that we wait for it eagerly and expectantly.3
It is precisely because we cannot see something, however, that we struggle to hope in it. In other words, the future is hard to rejoice in.
Shouldn’t the Christian’s focus be on the past, anyway? Doesn’t everything point back to the cross? For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, being put to death in the flesh4 – and, according to the riches of his grace, we now have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins.5 We have a present gift of redemption thanks to the past act of the cross. But: Christ suffered once for sins, that he might bring us to God. The act of the cross does not stay in the past, nor stop in the present. This “bringing to God” extends through to the future, slowly and daily until suddenly and entirely.
This week I have been struck by the realization that Jesus is really coming back, and that is the most important thing in all the world. Jesus is really coming back. There is more glory to see. There is more glory to see!!!! Eternity is real; we’re really going to be with him; we’re really going to see him. And it will be more mind-blowing than we could ever imagine. The Bible thinks this is an insanely big deal. Last week I wrote down verses that discuss Jesus’ second return and our waiting for this return, hoping in this return, rejoicing in this return, and enduring present sufferings for the joy of this return. There are a lot – and reading them sobers my soul. They say: Stop – everything. Look up. See this beauty! There are far more important things to be looking to than your little life.
This realization of future hope does not come to me during a time when it is easy to believe. On the contrary. I’ve been completely consumed with the banalities of life. I’ve been stressed out, overwhelmed, and worried about things that are so menial. I’ve been putting all my strength and energy into things that seem super important but ultimately aren’t. I’ve been pursuing other things more than I have him. Translation: I’ve been setting my mind on things of this earth, not on things that are above.6
But God, in his great and generous mercy, has been cupping his fingers under my chin, lifting my face up towards his, and opening my eyes to the light of this truth: that the revelation of Jesus Christ is real, and it will be the most glorious thing in all the world. It is the most worthy thing I could place my mind on. Therefore, preparing my mind for action, and being sober-minded, I must set my hope fully on the grace that will be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus Christ.7
Last night I was listening to Kings Kaleidoscope and was rocked by the assuredness of the lyrics in their song “I Know“:
“I’ve been given a taste of something, that nothing in this world can satisfy; but I know that a time is coming, when I will be in glorious delight. I know I will run through heaven’s brilliant streets of gold; shouting ‘hallelujah, Christ alone!’ I know I will dance and sing and bow before the throne. This I know…”
This is certain! There is absolutely nothing more certain. Nothing. The nature of life is that it is uncertain. The person you have loved and trusted for the past 30 years changes. The person who has vowed to be faithful to you breaks their word and annihilates your trust. The friendship you thought would never end ends. The job you have been hoping for rejects you. The school you have dreamt of denies your acceptance. The child you have been carrying for 9 months enters the world without breath. The body you have depended on for your athletic career shuts down. The legs you have relied on to serve your country get blown up.
Nothing is certain. This is cause for great frustration. But this I know: Christ suffered on my behalf, for my sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring me to God. He has caused me to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.8
This I know. I can’t see it, but I set my hope fully on it. Jesus is beautiful and marvelous and full of wonder, his clothes are radiant and intensely white,9 his eyes are like flames of fire, his voice like rushing waters10; the God of the ages is seated on his throne and has the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around his throne are 24 other thrones, and four living creatures who never cease to say, night and day, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”11 He is so piercingly holy that no one in their sin could see his face and live.12 But when he appears, we shall be like him, and we shall see him as he is.13 We shall see all of this!!!!
Now here is the great paradox: the most certain thing in all the world is the one thing that we cannot see. But who hopes for what he sees? And if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.14
This future hope makes everything bearable and worth it. We are able to endure the suffering, pain, and trials of life through depending on him and waiting patiently for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior.15 For although now we have been grieved by various trials, the tested genuineness of our faith will be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.16 Yes!
(1) Romans 8:24 · (2) Hebrews 11:1 · (3) Romans 8:23 · (4) 1 Peter 3:18 · (5) Ephesians 1:7 · (6) Colossians 3:2 · (7) 1 Peter 1:13 · (8) 1 Peter 1:3-4 · (9) Mark 9:3 · (10) Revelation 1:14-15 · (11) Revelation 4 · (12) Exodus 33:20· (13) John 3:2 · (14) 1 Peter 1:6-7 · (15) Romans 8:25 · (16) Titus 2:13