Hope, an Anchor for the Soul
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“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”—Romans 5:3–51
This is one of my favorite Bible passages, but for the longest time I had difficulty understanding how “character produces hope.” I followed up to the “endurance produces character” part, but how do the difficult experiences that forge character make us more hopeful?
The cynic in me felt that it was more likely to be the other way around. I realized that life was going to throw me some curveballs. I didn’t expect things to be all sunshine and roses. I didn’t think of that as a bad thing, but it wasn’t exactly “hope.”
It dawned on me recently that I frequently settle for a superficial meaning of the word: “I hope we have good weather tomorrow.” “I hope things work out for you.” The way the word “hope” has come to be used, it can have an almost fatalistic ring to it. The things we hope for may or may not work out, so especially when we have little or no control over the outcome, we might as well “hope,” because that’s about all we can do.
But the apostle Paul is not talking about the wishful thinking kind of hope here. He’s talking about hope of the gospel. It’s hope that is grounded in faith in God’s love and loving plan for us personally and for humankind. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul writes, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”2 It’s when we face difficulties and the bleak, blank times of life that hope in the deepest, truest sense shines brighter, stronger. This is how the deepening and shaping of our character produces hope.
Then we won’t shrink from the trials of life or be apprehensive in times of uncertainty. The hope that “does not put us to shame” will never let us down. Why? Because it comes to us through God’s love, which “has been poured into our hearts.” From that love springs faith, hope, and yet more love. It’s a beautiful, perfect cycle, an ongoing exchange of hope and trust that God has given to carry us through life, closer to Him.—Avi Rue
“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God.”—Hebrews 6:193
Last year was a very hard year for [my wife] and me; I know it was for many people. As the calendar went on, we experienced wave after wave of loss. …
In the midst of so much loss, I found myself asking, Jesus, what is it we’re supposed to look forward to? After your losses begin to mount up, you wonder what it is you’re supposed to hope for.
It was about that time I began to take a fresh look into God’s promises. And what I found took my breath away. In Matthew chapter 19, Peter has actually just asked Jesus the same question I had—What is it we are supposed to look forward to? Jesus replies like this:
“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”4
That phrase—“at the renewal of all things”—is what caught my heart. I’d never heard God’s promise of hope to us described in this way. …
The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to remember Revelation 21, a passage of Scripture that’s been dear to me:
“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”5
When Jesus Christ returns, heaven and earth are restored. As it says in Acts, Jesus remains in heaven … “until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”6 He restores our lives and the earth we love—even our homes and “fields.” …
My heart started to sing at the thought that nothing is truly lost.
O friends, the great hope of the Christian life is not that we’ll find a parking spot tomorrow. Nor that we’ll get a raise next week (although God cares about those things).
The real hope that’s the anchor of the soul, the unbreakable spiritual lifeline, is the hope that … our loving Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will usher in the Renewal of All Things. … And that’s truly a hope worth looking forward to.
O Father, I pray You would open my eyes to this breathtaking hope. I pray that I would be filled with the hope of the restoration of all things. Come into my every loss, dear God, and speak to me about this precious hope. I want an anchor for my soul; I want an unbreakable spiritual lifeline. Restore my hope in the restoration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.—John Eldredge7
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”—Romans 15:138
When painful circumstances are weighing you down, I encourage you to rejoice and exalt in hope: to leap joyously forward. ... As you lift your soul to Me in hopeful anticipation, My showers of Joy fall upon and within you. …
I delight in those who fear Me, who put their hope in My unfailing Love. “Fear of the Lord” is often misunderstood, but it is the foundation of spiritual wisdom and knowledge. It consists of reverential awe, adoration, and submission to My will. You submit to Me by exchanging your attitudes and goals for Mine. Since I am your Creator, aligning yourself with Me is the best way to live. When your lifestyle exhibits this biblical fear, I take delight in you. Seek to feel My pleasure shining on you at such times.
Living according to My will is not easy; there will be many ups and downs as you journey with Me. But no matter what is happening, you can find hope in My unfailing Love. In your world today, many people feel desperate. They become disillusioned and cynical because they put their confidence in the wrong thing. But My steadfast Love will never let you down—it will never let you go! Cling to hope, beloved. It is a golden cord connecting you to Me.—Jesus9
Published on Anchor October 2021. Read by Simon Peterson.
Music by John Listen.
2 Hebrews 6:19 NIV.
4 Matthew 19:28–29 NIV.
5 Revelation 21:4–5 NIV.
6 Acts 3:21 NIV.
9 Sarah Young, Jesus Always (Thomas Nelson, 2017).