Faith Column: The importance of hope

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ... as you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him and established in the faith as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him which is the head of all principality and power.

Colossians 2:2-10

Have you ever put together a worldly wish list? You know, stuff that you hope you'll have or get to do someday? I've certainly been heard to say such things as, "Someday, I'm going to travel the world, live in a bigger house, drive a better car, buy some new furniture," and on ad infinitum. All these things hoped for might keep us going for a while, though I admit my wish list has become smaller as I grow older. I don't think it prudent, for example, to make a first attempt at snow skiing now that I have waltzed into my seventh decade, and as far as traveling the world, well, I find myself quite content to stay at home.

Hope is important. I don't ever want to stop hoping, especially for the salvation of lost souls, and I often find myself trying to encourage others by saying, "You need your hope. Don't ever let anyone or anything steal it."

I was totally disabled from chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Told I could never get well, I let doctors and people snatch my hope right out from under me. God saw fit to flood my life with encouragers, however, and the restoration of hope eventually led to the restoration to my body.

It was true, I could not get well without hope, but there was another component that lent to my recovery: that was the knowledge of God's Holy Word that assured me of His healing grace.

Whether to mend our broken hearts, minds, souls, or our bodies, we are given all that we need to overcome through Jesus Christ. Even so, though vital to life, hope without assurance does not bring us the deep and abiding peace we have in knowing that everlasting life awaits us at the end of our Earth journeys.

I met a lovely, intelligent, and gifted lady who readily informed me that she is an atheist. Finalizing a brief disclosure of her own belief system, she said, "Of course, I hope we all end up in the same place."

I was concurrently deeply saddened and filled with gratitude. Not only does the Christian hold onto hope, but assurance. We know where we're going to end up for eternity, and we know that we shall experience life, not death, to our souls, and that there will be no more tears, no pain, no suffering, no sickness, not ever again. I can't imagine anything better, and it sure beats the alternative, which is eternal torment.

Now here's the best part: we get to choose. Lyrics to a beloved Christian hymn, Blessed Assurance, were written in 1873, by Fanny Crosby, to music written by Phoebe Knapp. Here are just a few of the words:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight:

Angels descending bring from above, Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.

Fanny Crosby was blind, yet she could see. Is it time for new glasses with which to aid my spiritual sight? Do I have the blessed assurance of eternal life?

Lord, does my spiritual sight need an overhaul so that I might receive the assurance of your Holy Word? Today I ask ...

Adapted from "Boldly I Come, Lord," by Dianne Finnegan Wilson, author of Out of the Desert, Softly and Finding the Flowers in a Prickly World. You may email Ms. Wilson by visiting www.pensepublishing.com.