“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

With these words the Apostle Paul makes a distinction which should be in the mind of every Christian.

One of the privileges of the believer is an assured hope, something which reaches beyond present circumstances and rises above the buffetings which are an inevitable part of life.

It is because we Christians so often look at our immediate circumstances with the astigmatic lenses of the worldling that we fail to bear clear testimony to the grace of God.

Only the Christian knows his present position and his ultimate destiny. Only the Christian has the answers to this life and to that which is to come, dim as his understanding may be. The Christian can look at the world and think of all its uncertainties and yet reverently say, “So what!” for he knows in his heart that the sovereign God of the universe is his own loving heavenly Father.

This in no way justifies an unconcern with needy men in a needy world, however; it increases this concern, for the comfort and hope which are a part of the Christian’s heritage are blessings to be passed on and not kept in selfish seclusion. Yet, a clear distinction should be made between the by-products of the Christian faith and those things which constitute that faith.

There is often an alarming tendency to interpret Christianity in terms of peace, joy, hope, psychological adjustment, social awareness and other lovely, desirable things. When this is done, without an adequate presentation of the Gospel itself, Christianity is not advanced, but made confusing.

Christianity we know is not a panacea for life’s problems but the acquiring of a new life through faith in the atoning and transforming work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And through him who died for our sins, who rose again for our justification and who is living today, praying for us and giving us the companionship of his Holy Spirit, we come to look at our position in terms of the Christ who dwells in us and not as a detour around problems.

How true it is that Christ never promised exemption from life’s pressures; but he did promise grace sufficient to meet those pressures, a grace which enables us to rejoice in hope, and to be patient in tribulation.

The Christian’s failure to appropriate the privileges and blessings that are his is what causes so much unhappiness and covers the joy of salvation with a gloom of temporal sorrows.

Almost all of us have known persons to whom life seemed to have dealt far more than one individual’s share of suffering and sorrow, and we have seen those people demonstrate an inner source of peace and joy that the world can only marvel at, but not understand. This has been demonstrated in the sick room, at the grave side, and where the sins and failures of others have brought suffering and disgrace to the innocent; for standing beside those afflicted souls has been the One who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.

Why is it, then, that so few of us who name Christ as Saviour rise to the privileges and live by the blessings which he is so anxious that we should appropriate?

Is not the answer to be found in our failure to realize that relationship with Christ is a personal matter, and He is not separated from us by some great and ethereal distance but is closer to us even than breathing itself?

Furthermore, only too often our supposedly Christian joy has been predicated on some immediate personal success or material advantage. Such experiences can and do pass, but true Christian joy and hope have their root in things which are not subject to change or decay.

Christian hope is a firm assurance and expectation of the goodness of God, and it comes from our participation in the fullness of his blessings through our relationship with the Son. This hope is a wellspring of spiritual water, relieving the thirsty soul and bringing never-ending refreshment to the parched deserts of a sinful world.

This hope must be distinguished from the fading things of a material world, not only by the nature of that for which we hope but also by its eternal quality. Let the imagination run riot and conjure up a vision of obtaining everything this world has to offer, not only in things material but also in the intangibles of achievement which bring honor and power. Unless such were to be sanctified and blessed by God, they would prove as transient and unsatisfying as the world of which they are a part.

The Christian’s hope, being fixed and eternal, should carry with it a definite reaction in outlook, personality, and action. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Like Peter we look at the waves rather than to the Ruler of the waves. Like Martha we may be burdened with much serving, losing sight of the Lord of Glory whom it is our privilege to serve. Like Thomas we magnify doubts rather than exercise that faith which dissolves them into the assurance of things not seen.

The Christian’s hope is also a foundation which remains unmoved because that foundation is Christ. In a day when a search for security is almost a fetish, it is the Christian alone who enjoys the stability of eternal verities.

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There is also a cleansing power in this hope. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure,” for the object of his faith is altogether pure and lovely. Instead of accepting the standards of the world, he looks to those standards which have their source in the perfections of Christ.

The very heart of our hope as Christians rests on the person and work of our Saviour. We have the fullest kind of assurance because we know that he is the eternal Son of God. We have absolute confidence because we know that he has redeemed us for time and eternity. Although still living in the flesh we know that we even now have eternal life, and that which is not yet seen will some day become a glorious reality.

The Apostle Paul, who as much as anyone and more than most, suffered for his Lord, lived a life of continuing hope in the sureness of his position as a Christian. In the midst of overwhelming odds he said: “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

The Lord that Paul knew is our Lord. And the hope which was his is ours. Here there is no enduring situation, but there is one to come which will be based not on our present circumstances or frustrations but on the promise of our God.

This is the Christian’s hope and it should transform our daily lives.

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