Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul writes, “Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2:16). Paul was picturing the day when he would stand in Christ’s presence and the secrets of redemption would be unveiled.
We have learned from Isaiah 49 that the Lord knows your battle. He has fought it before you. And it is no sin to endure thoughts that your labor has been in vain, or to be cast down with a sense of failure over shattered expectations. Jesus himself experienced this and was without sin.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
We hear a lot about hope — from politicians, from books, from multimedia. But what is offered in each of these messages doesn’t seem to last. We may get fired up and encouraged by what we hear in such messages; indeed, we may find ourselves refreshed and hopeful for a season. But what is offered is not a fixed, experienced hope and it soon fades away.
“Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Do you ever feel as though you haven’t accomplished much in life, and many promises are unfulfilled? If so, you’re in good company; in fact, you are standing among spiritual giants.
Many great servants of God throughout history ended up feeling that they failed in their calling. The prophet Elijah looked at his life and cried, “Lord, take me home! I’m no better than my fathers, and all of them failed you. Please, take my life! Everything has been in vain” (see 1 Kings 19:4).
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:2-3).
We all know that Christians in the first century faced great tribulations. They endured severe testings, hard times, persecutions that were life-and-death. But they didn’t break down under the stress. Paul says the church in Thessalonica endured the loss of everything they owned, yet these believers were not rocked by the experience.
Teachings about divine authority — God’s power — abound in the church today. When I hear such discourse, I immediately think of Elijah. This prophet lived in a period much like ours, one marked by spiritual decline, when honoring God was at an all-time low.