They are everywhere. And they are transforming. Promises of hope. Hope for now, today, here on earth, in the flesh. And eternal promises forever. For years I’ve swung in such a direction to emphasize the hope now, not just in heaven. But I must confess & defend myself as to why.
If our eyeballs were able to look in two different directions spiritually, I would have one fixed on eternal life. I’d be considering life with Jesus forever, understanding why He did what He did out of love, the joy and bliss we get to enjoy there and the image of Revelation 4 bowing down to God in ways in which we can’t imagine. John’s picturesque words in Revelation still aren’t nearly enough to describe the wonder. Words can rarely describe love, peace, thankfulness and more so I wouldn’t expect them in the least to come close to describing eternal life that is sinless, pure, new and more than our limited minds can imagine.
But I believe as missionaries of Jesus’ sacrificial love, as followers of Him and responders to His grace, we ought to keep the other eyeball on the here and now around us so that we might be able to serve those who need to fix one of their eyeballs on the eternal. When I see hope with “the one eyeball,” whether in Scripture, creation, relationships, miracles or more, it causes me to focus on what the other eyeball sees: God eternal in love, grace and Truth. In fact, when we see hopelessness we often turn to God as well. Paul writes:
“17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4.
When we struggle, we look to heaven with both eyes, asking, pleading, trying to see through the fog God and His wonder, hope and provision. We realize that our struggles in the flesh are temporary. And we are eternal beings. I think as we realize this when we gaze upon Him with both eyeballs, He slowly puts our one of our eyes back on others and even the hope we have in the world. See, we are living in the already but not yet. With God eternally, but tainted by our sin and the world – but eventually to be in the fullness of God.
There is so much hope to see now, though. Everywhere. I find this especially true in Scripture. Marinating in the Psalms currently, I find it all over: even in those Psalms of “lament,” when they sound so sad and desperate. There’s always hope (Psalm 88 is tough to find it, I will admit).
Psalm 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait [hope] for the Lord!
It definitely takes time & courage to hope. It ain’t easy, but it is filling.
Pslam 71:5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Reading this and re-reading it over the years, I often get embarrassed by the fact that it’s just not true in my life as I’ve let both my eyeballs slip off God. But knowing with that one eyeball that we live forever, we gain in”sight” into the fact that we really are young!
2 Corinthians 1:8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
When I read this passage a month ago, I saw hope. Understanding hope Biblically isn’t just doing a word search on youversion.com or biblegateway.com (two great sites, by the way), but it’s understanding the eternal and the temporary. God is eternal, but shows so much grace in the here and now. God is faithful – that doesn’t just start when we die. He will keep us firm to the end. The promise is before we cross over from physical life to death (see a future blog about that).
I think a big part of why I push hope now so hard is that I hear so many Christians (probably because they hear it from their leaders) argue that the world is going to “hell in a hand basket.” Well of course it is! It already is in a ton of ways and will probably get worse. But why do we need to harp on it. Focus on the future and the present. Don’t just highlight the future. And don’t just slam on the present. Paul didn’t in the New Testament. He spoke of what God was doing in the here and now and the challenges at hand presently and the future. We need to find a balance of maintaining those two eyeball perspectives. I’ve been guilty of looking just now while hinting toward the future. Many are just seeing the future and ignoring the present.
Paul thought Jesus was coming any minute. While in some ways we are to think that way as well, we realize it’s been 2000 years and we are living in the Spirit now and can be patient, understanding Jesus will return … eventually. I love the Luther quote that says, “we are to live life as if Jesus died yesterday, arose from the grave today and is coming again tomorrow.” It’s true. Today and Tomorrow. One eyeball hope now and the other hope tomorrow.