The first time I walked through the squatter camps was eye-opening. I had only seen poverty like this once before in my life in Nicaragua. This was a fresh reminder of the hardship and pain life offers. In the States, I have to intentionally go out of my way to be met with such poverty. Here in South Africa, it is known as the normal. My heart was breaking as I thought through the implications of living in these conditions. It was a reality that shocked my wealthy western eyes. Then this still and beautiful word was whispered into my conscience- hope. Do they have hope? This question took me aback for a second because I had to think through what hope ultimately is.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me.
As I went to pray about this and dove into the concept, I was reminded by God that hope does not lie in living conditions. Hope is not acquired by achievement, by economic status, or even by how stable the country you live in is. All of that passes away. It is all vanity. Seeking hope in these things is meaningless because ultimately “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7). Therefore, that beautiful and life-giving word, hope, can only be found in Jesus Christ himself. Hope can only be found in trusting in the words of Jesus and believing that they are true. He is the only one who will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).
The beauty of the Gospel
What I’ve realized is how truly beautiful the gospel of hope is. We have hope and contentment in all situations because we don’t look at what we have now, we look to what God has promised to bring (Philippians 4:11-13). “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Now that we know what hope is, we are confronted with the decision of believing and placing our hope in Jesus’ promises. Will we choose to believe that Jesus’s words are more real than our present realities? We must keep our eyes on Jesus, the author, and the finisher of our faith. He kept his eyes on the joy set before him as he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Follow Jesus’s example, keep your eyes on the eternal and his promises of a renewed world (Revelation 21). We have hope in this, that Jesus has conquered all and out of his deep love for us, all will be made right. Take joy that Jesus promises that “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5). Keep the faith brothers and sisters. We have a race to run with perseverance. Hope in Christ and give this hope to others. May God bless you and sanctify you as you hope in his resurrection.