Posts Tagged ‘eternity’
“Each man’s life is but a breath.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:5-7
At first glance, this verse doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with hope. Its bleak outlook on life seems more despairing than hopeful. But that’s why I love this verse so much. It shows how powerful hope that’s born from despair is. When I say despair, I don’t mean despair over a tragic circumstance like the death of a loved one. When I use despair in this sense, I’m talking about despair over the human condition that we’re all born into. The writer of this Psalm takes an honest look at his life and realizes how difficult it is to really do anything of real meaning. Most of what we do is running after money, or bustling about to take care of our own needs. Very little of what we do will ever have an eternal impact.
Before we come to a place of healthy despair over the human condition, we’re very susceptible to false hopes. We say “if only I had that career,” or “if only I could afford that house, then I’d be happy.” But we don’t realize that none of that has an eternal significance. But once we come to the hard conclusion that none of the things that society tells us will make us happy will actually make us happy or bring us satisfaction, only then are we ready to say: “Now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Sometimes it takes a drastic event like a midlife crisis to make us realize this truth. Other times, God graciously allows us to realize it sooner. I just love the raw honesty of the Psalm. Though it’s a bleak and somewhat despairing outlook on life as a whole, it ends with hope. And hope that’s born from despair is so much stronger than all the false hopes that society tries to entangle us in.
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18
I often reflect on this Bible verse about hope wondering, are the eyes of my heart enlightened, or are they darkened? Do I really know the hope to which I have been called, not in an intellectual way, but deep down in my heart? I love how Paul phrased his prayer. He prayed that those in the church of Ephesus might have their hearts enlightened to understand the hope that each of them had received. He wasn’t praying for their minds to understand, but their hearts. That’s a big distinction. So often, we read the Bible’s account on Heaven and all its manifold and wonderful attributes, but the knowledge only sinks into the mind, and never really enters the heart. But is hope something that lives in the mind? It seems to me that hope is a matter of the heart and not of the mind. In a very real way, I don’t think that my heart has yet been enlightened to the full extent of the hope to which I have been called, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. For if it had, wouldn’t I have more of an attitude like Paul who said:
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” Philippians 3:8
It seems to me that the more our hearts become enlightened to the hope to which we have been called, the more the temporary things of Earth seem to fade into silence. I’ve been praying a lot recently for God to enlighten my heart, to show me not only a vision of what kind of man I ought to be, and what things He’s created me to do here, but also to show me the full extent of the hope to which I have been called. One final verse:
“‘No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him,’
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
I love the first expression: “we do not lose heart.” Though this Bible verse about hope doesn’t expressly use the word hope, I love the way it states it: “we do not lose heart.” Sometimes hope isn’t about waiting and expecting something grand to appear. Sometimes hope is just about keeping yourself from losing heart. I’ve often been in this place, when life goes down a path that I hadn’t intended and all my efforts seem to come to nothing. It’s during those times that I think hope is especially important, but not a hope that everything’s going to get better and life’s going to be all shiny and new, but rather, just to not lose heart, knowing that even if everything goes wrong here on this Earth, that our destiny is greater than just the 70 or so years we get to live and work and breathe.
That may not sound all that hopeful, but it really is. This is an amazing Bible verse about hope because it shows us where our foundation of hope needs to rest. If our hope isn’t founded upon salvation and the eternal life waiting at the end of the road, then nothing will be able to give us hope during those times of despair and discouragement, when life seems out of control. We’ll be held hostage to our circumstances and true hope will be an elusive concept.