TRUE HOPE. What do you hope for? Success? Health, wealth and happiness? To win the lottery? That Burnley will win the premiership? To live long and prosper?
The trouble with hope is that it can let us down. We all know that it wouldn’t be hope if it were a dead certainty. But having our hopes dashed still leaves us feeling gutted.
However it’s fair to say, isn’t it, that in this world we will all have our hopes dashed at some point? No one wins forever. Teams that win the premiership one season can finish way down the table the very next year. Political leader nearly always end up resigning in defeat.
But, unfortunately, we too often believe them when people tell us that “you can be whoever you want to be”, and “you can do whatever they want to do”. Those are lovely sentiments, but in reality, in this world, there are limitations that we can’t overcome: limits to our abilities, limits to our relationships, limits to our careers, and so on. There is a reality that we need to learn to live with. That reality is that we will not do, or get, everything we want. And trying to go beyond our limits can leave us hurt, despondent and angry.
So someone once wrote that: “… godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” And isn’t that true! Having enough and being content with it is a happy way to live. But having lots of stuff, and never feeling it’s enough, can be almost as miserable as having very little!
“Contentment” is indeed great gain.. but what about “godliness”?!
Well, we all know that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it”! We all have to go, and the only thing we can do when we are leaving this life is to give ourselves to God and trust Him for the next life. But we can do something to prepare for that. We can put some effort into the things that are of ultimate value; the way we live our lives. Living life well is what really makes us content. So the previous author goes on to say: “… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
It’s not the things that have that are ultimately important, it’s the quality of our lives: what we value and how we live.
In the 1990s I met an English lady in Belgium who had married a Belgian Count just before the war. She had brought up her children on his estate near Liege, unable to leave it during the German occupation. Then she had brought up her grandchildren when her daughter died young. And now, in her 80s, she was about to go to Northern Ireland to join a community praying for peace. Her life had not been easy, or without heartbreak, but through it she had chosen to grow the eternal qualities of her life, she had come close to God, and now she was full of joy and longing that other people should know the fulfillment she had found – “that passes all understanding”.
She had done what that author (above) recommended; to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called …”. May we all do that too! As Jesus Himself said the kingdom of heaven is near us – in our hearts & in our lives – if we will trust and follow Him.