Written by Help One Now Founder & CEO, Chris Marlow.
Welcome to the final part of our series, Walking Together in Hope. I chose the title of this series very carefully. While we have unpacked a lot of challenging information in this series, I ultimately knew that hope would be the common theme through it all; finding hope amid suffering by leaning on God and our community, discovering hope by working through our feelings, and asking ourselves difficult questions, and finding hope and joy by depending on God. In the final installment of this series, we will unpack what the Bible says about Heaven and how God’s promises for the future can bring us hope today.
Aim for Restoration
A harsh reality for me and all of us to face is that we cannot fix all the world’s problems. We can’t end evil and injustice. Believe me, I wish we could, and I’ve committed my life to making sure that this reality changes for thousands of lives. But we know that no matter how hard we try, we live in a fallen and broken world, which means that there will always be pain, suffering, and injustice.
However, The Bible calls us to “aim for restoration” even in the darkest circumstances.
2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
But how do we get this restoration? The solution sounds simple – the only way to attain complete restoration and peace is to lean on God. However, the ability to do so can feel so complicated as we try to live this out. How can we, when we face suffering and pain, overcome and rely on God? One way that God tells us is to look to His promises for the future.
Embrace the Hope of Heaven
While we experience the pain of the world, we also embrace the hope of Heaven. Revelation 21: 1- 4 tells us:
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-3 ESV).
Here we get a glimpse of what life in Heaven will look like. Once we are reunited with God – all of the pain and tragedy we experienced as a society and our personal lives will cease to exist. There will be no more hurt, no more death, and no more suffering.
This promise is why we do not lose hope in what we see happening in the world – because we have hope in God and Heaven that is greater than any earthly struggle. We have this promise from God.
God’s Promises for Us
Peter gives us a wonderful hope in reminding us through II Peter 3:13 – “But according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
In the Bible, we see hope as the confident expectation of what God has promised, and its strength is in His faithfulness. In 2nd Peter, God makes this promise of Heaven to us, but that is far from the only promise He makes that we can find hope in and delight in.
Through our faith, we are assured that:
- God will always be our safe refuge. (Psalm 62:8)
- God will save us from evil and our enemies. (Psalm 23:4)
- God will strengthen and encourage us. (Romans 15:5)
- God will hear and answer our humble cries. (Psalm 10:17)
- God will give us His peace. (John 14:27)
- God will bless us and make us a blessing. (Deuteronomy 28)
Because as Christians, we believe in God’s word – we have hope in what He has promised for us. There is remarkable comfort in knowing that God has made these promises to us to be our constant companion, encourager, and rock no matter what we face.
The best example of choosing to lean on God when facing challenges that I know of are the local leaders we partner with to make a difference. These leaders are courageous, resilient, and full of hope. They have faced extreme hardship in their communities, made even more difficult recently through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, despite difficult circumstances, they choose to lean on God and His promises every day and continue to choose hope. Through this courageous and faithful posture, they can serve their communities in meaningful ways every day.
We are reminded in scripture that life will have its dark moments. This morning, as I was reading Matthew, moments before Jesus passes, he cries out to the Father: Why have you forsaken me? Right before the resurrection, Jesus felt the pain and despair; he was in the valley yet so close to the mountain top.
A few weeks ago, I did my first gravel bike race—80 miles in the Ozark mountains. The day was cold, the wind was strong, and I was nervous. I crossed the finish line seven hours later, but somewhere around mile 60, I began to doubt myself. The wind was strong, I was riding alone for most of the race, and my legs began to cramp because I ran out of water, and I knew I had one more large climb. Thankfully, I had one last aid station. I remember when I saw it, just a table with all sorts of food and drink, in the middle of nowhere. I was ecstatic. I filled up my water bottles, ate some carbs, and was off with renewed hope and energy for the final stretch.
Yes, I realize I just included a bike story, the resurrection, and why our local leaders have so much courage. Often, we learn the most important principles in life via the simplest things. Life will have its ups and downs. We will need aid stations along the way (prayer, hope, community), and yet, the finish line is the greatest hope. When we get there, our lives will be complete. The race will be over. That said, often we will be at mile 60, and we will wonder if we can go any further – the answer is yes because we have each other, and we also have the hope of Heaven.
My Final Prayer
Even amid the chaos and despair, we may feel, we must remember that restoration and healing always come from a place of hope. As believers, we put our faith in God, whose promises give us hope.
As we conclude this Walking Together in Hope series, I want to call back to the title one more time. The word together is so important. We are a community that comes together in the good times and the difficult times. We can look beyond our current difficulties and lean into hope by relying on God and each other. I want to leave you with this parting encouragement:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Thank you for being here, together with us.