Replacing Groaning with HOPE!Dr. John Neufeld
I had a recent conversation in which learned of the great many Christians who are suffering from depression. The pandemic is deepening and we have already been in it for so long. I heard of one Christian who committed suicide. I thought I wanted to say something, in the hope that it might provide solace to those who are suffering.
In Dante’s famous poem, “Inferno”, Dante portrays a sign at the entrance to hell. It says, “Abandon Hope All You Who Enter Here”. Dante is correct in his portrayal. Hell has no hope. There is, within the confines of hell, no possibility that things will ever change for the better.
In contrast, Hebrews 10:23 says, 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Let me try to restate Hebrews 10:23 in my own words. Christian people expend every effort to enliven the reality of your faith. Your faith will give you hope in the future promises of God. Those promises are true, but you need to remind yourself of those truths on a regular basis. Use whatever means are available to you to pour gas on the fire of your eternal hope. You know that your very best days are still ahead of you. Concentrate on that promise. Make sure you don’t let anyone or any news or any negative report cause you to doubt that. After all, you know that the God who cannot lie made those promises to you. Fix your eyes on that.
In order to further aid our hope, let’s consider it from a short and long term perspective. On the day when Adam and Eve sinned and were introduced to the curse and to death, they also found that they were naked. Suddenly they are exposed to things they cannot ward off. They are defenceless. And yet, Genesis 3:21 says that the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. There is an application from this, that is vital. Garments of skins are not the long term need that must be remedied. It is a short term solution until the final solution is revealed. But God cares about their short term suffering.
In our day, the garments of skin is the research that is being done to combat the pandemic. Even as I write this, I am told that one company that is working for a vaccine believes that stage 3 of their trials will be complete by the end of September. If that reporting is correct, they will then know if they have a workable vaccine. Yes, it will still take time to get it approved and brought to market. And yes, this vaccine may prove to be ineffective. But in God’s grace, he has provided for technological advances to fight this pandemic. These are coats of skins in the present hour. Those who are struggling with hope, need to seize on the fact that a solution is speeding forward. Don’t take your eyes off this grace that comes from God.
But there is an ultimate hope. God allows for moments of suffering to build the faith and hope of the believer. Romans 8 reminds us that the creation groans, awaiting its final redemption. And we groan as well. But our groans are not a death rattle. Rather our groans are the groans of a mother about to give birth. At the end of the labour pains, is the joy of a new life.
This is the ultimate ground of our hope. We know that the present pandemic is one more step before sin and death are finally defeated. Sin and death are groaning in a death rattle, but we are like the expectant mother.
Therefore, I encourage all believers to concentrate on this hope. Hold on to it. He who made the promises to you is faithful.