Hope is like a greased pig.
You chase after it only to have it slip out of your grasp.
I believe that many good Christian people live with this idea of hope. Is it elusive or do we just place hope in stuff that will fail? I believe the latter to be true. We lose hope because we place hope in that which fails, leaves, or dies.
- Your cat died.
- Your parent is wasting away with cancer.
- Your injury becomes permanent.
- You can’t provide for your family because you lost your job.
- You move back in with your parents at age 29.
All of these things can cause us to lose hope if we are placing our hope in never experiencing death, failure, loss, or a life re-boot. You will face one or more of these things. If the strength of your hope lies in any of those you will lose it quickly. Too many Christians start with a hope in Jesus only to trade it off for more current issues in their lives.
Paul writes to the churches in Colossae and expresses an interesting point that losing hope can happen to you. While I hold to a “perseverance of the saints” doctrine which states that once a person has engaged in a sincere relationship with God through faith in Jesus that person will always have that relationship, that does not mean I will “feel” it every day. There will come a time, if not already, when you will doubt whether or not you will go to Heaven. You will have a moment when your mind crashes down and you lose your hope. How does this happen?
1. We forget our foundation. I was in the controller tower with my Dad one night in San Francisco. Looking out over the airport was a unique sight from this vantage point. Before long I felt unsteady. I was losing my balance and fell down. I crawled over to my Dad and clung to his leg very scared. He explained to me that there was no need to be afraid. The tower was designed to sway with the winds off the bay. Because of its design and its deeply dug foundation, it could sway several feet in each direction with hazard. We often forget our string foundation in Jesus Christ. When cancer hits your family it is a strong blow! When your teenager dies in a hit and run that is a strong blow! We can become so focused on the event, or circumstance, that we forget our foundation. We can lose hope.
2. We forget our faithfulness. Those times when I lose hope in my salvation are usually preceded by stupid choices. I know, and remember, exactly when I made the conscious choice to turn my life over to God through faith in Jesus. However, when we choose to sin there is a veil that covers our eyes. Have you ever played peek-a-boo with a child? Every time they cover their eyes and then remove their hands it is like they are being reunited with a loved one who has been away for years. When their eyes are covered they do not process that you are still present. They lose hope that you are there. The same is true for us spiritually. As we choose wrong choices we cover our eyes. God, like the parent, knows they are still there. We, as the baby whose eyes are covered, lose hope of His presence. By forgetting to be faithful we put ourselves in a position of darkness and can lose hope.
3. We forget our Father. In this specific verse, Paul is addressing the problem of believers forgetting their Spiritual Father and choosing something else in which to place their trust. I have always been the independent type. I often ran out on my own trusting in myself, friends, money, and my heart. When I was caught for reckless driving who did I call? Dad. When I ran the car into a ditch and my friends left who did I call? Dad. When I was out of money who did I call? Dad. When I was alone who did I call? Dad. The point is that Dad never left. I did. God never leaves. We walk away and try things out on our own only to find that we lose hope.
Every one of us face circumstances through which we can lose our hope in Heaven, God, and salvation. We haven’t lost our home, but the hope of ever seeing that home. God is faithful. God is merciful. God keeps his promises. When we choose the wrong path, or become too independent, or just forget about God in a busy-ness, we will lose hope. In the purest sense, death is not the absence of hope but the fulfillment of our hope in Christ.