If ever there was a time for hope, it is today, because it seems there is nothing but bad news, but for there is actually good news for many.
Today it seems there is bad news just about everywhere you turn, including on the news. Violence in the streets, white supremacists groups are growing, natural catastrophes, protests, some of which comes with rioting, looting, and violence has captured the headlines. In some parts of the U.S., devastating floods, while drought and fires rage in the West, and through all of this, for many, hope is slowly slipping away. For those who had hope at the beginning of the year, many have seen their hopes dashed to the ground. In our own state of Kansas, violent crimes such as murders are up about 12%, and for those who live around the local casino that opened up about 5 years ago, they have seen an associated increase in divorce, spousal abuse, DUI’s, and bankruptcy. Earlier this year, the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index for 2017 reported that 42% of British millennials believe owning a house or getting a steady job is unrealistic for them, while 16% think that no matter how hard they try, their life will amount to nothing, and most alarmingly, 34% anticipate a lower standard of living than their parents , which is almost double the number of the pre-war generation, and so it’s no wonder that 56% of young people stated they’ve experienced a mental health problem and didn’t believe in themselves while they were in school. What’s happening to hope in this world?
When hope is missing in a person’s life, it is often replaced by something else, but that replacement is not always a good because it can be filled with drugs, alcohol, and for many, gambling. A University of Bristol study found that 25 percent of men between 18 and 24 had gambling problems of varying degrees of severity. These same researchers polled more than 1,000 patients in 11 Bristol waiting rooms. About one in 20 people had a gambling problem and one in five of those had a severe problem. It seems when hope is missing, something else is sought to replace that hope, but instead of it being hope, it is for many, hoping to win and break their “bad luck.” One security guard I interviewed at the nearby casino said that the busiest time of the month is at the very beginning of the month when welfare recipients received their checks, but tragically, instead of receiving some hope by means of winning, instead, they spend money that is earmarked for their families is gone…spent at the local casino, so those who have long been linked to gambling, are creating gambler’s addictions and ripping apart families. The vulnerable or lower class (including the poor) are more are likely to become addicted than those of other economic classes. I have yet to see a study that shows a lessening of crime when and after a casino is built. According to the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation), there has been an overall increase in violent crimes (4.2%) such as murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults and batteries. This increase occurred even after a sharp 11.2 percent increase for these types of violent crimes in the previous year (2015). Reports from other states across the U.S. have had similar reports. Michael Churi, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute said, “Because of the aging population, we don’t have enough workers to have the economic growth we need,” so trouble in economics, society, and the environment is robbing many of hope, but the problem isn’t hope…it’s where that hope is placed.
Hope in God
If we only have hope in this world, we are going to be disappointed. The world’s idea of hope is radically different than the hope mentioned in Scripture. The world’s hope comes and goes, but those who hope in God shall never be disappointed. If the only hope I had was in this world, my hope would turn to disappointment because nothing in this world, outside of Christ, offers any hope beyond today. The truth is, there is no hope without Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that even if things look hopeless, there is always hope in God. The Apostle Paul says our hope is in Christ, and knowing that death is not the final chapter, Paul writes, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1st Cor 15:17-19), however we have a sure and certain hope in Jesus Christ because “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). That means we have hope beyond the grave. For those who die in the faith, funerals are not as hard since they have the hope of the resurrection and seeing their loved ones again…that is, if they have trusted in Christ. Hope is a good thing, and for many, it is the only thing that keeps them going. The Apostle Paul told Felix, “I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:14b-15). Daniel the Prophet spoke of this great hope while simultaneously speaking of the judgment of God on unbelievers. Daniel wrote of a coming time when “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above: and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan 12:2-3).
If you are holding out in hope for things to get better in this world, I believe you have hoped in the wrong thing, or more specifically, in the wrong Person. Like the author of Hebrews, “we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end” (Heb 6:11), and so “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Heb 6:18). Our hope in Christ is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” (Heb 6:19). The encouraging message from Hebrews is for all who believe; “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.