WHY WE CAN HAVE HOPE WHEN WE LOOK INTO THE FUTURE

WHY WE CAN HAVE HOPE WHEN WE LOOK INTO THE FUTURE

It’s that time of the year again, isn’t it? Hot on the heels of Christmas comes the New Year. The dates are so close that people don’t bother to wish others separately anymore. They just lump the two together and say ‘Merry Christmas & Happy New Year’. And that makes me wonder, don’t people look forward to a new year?

As a teacher, I know that the entire establishment of education over here never looks forward to the new year. January marks the end of a month-long break, and no one; neither the teachers nor the students, not even the janitors who need to keep up with the mess that everyone is about to make; wants to start the daily grind again.

What about you? Are you looking forward to the new year? Are you waiting in eager anticipation or cringing in apprehension, bracing yourself for what is to come?

If we look at the world today, things don’t seem to be getting any better. Economies are slowing, disease is rampant and the environment is degrading. Seems the only line of business that will benefit from how the world will end up, are the undertakers.

But you know what, beloved child of God, we can have hope to look into the future, because Jesus said,

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Look, let’s not act so surprised when Jesus tells us that in the world, we will have tribulation. All you need to do is count the number of wars that have broken out since the time of Jesus till now, look at how each one grows increasingly more devastating, and look at how the environment has deteriorated since.

And didn’t Jonathan Swift suggest that in order to reduce the strain of our growing populations on space and resources, we should eat our children; so that they may be of greater service to mankind? Hey, don’t hate the man. He was merely borrowing God’s idea; for in the past, when we disobeyed God, this was how we were supposed to be punished.

“‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,
then I also will walk contrary to you in fury;
and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.” Leviticus 26:27-29

So aren’t you glad that Jesus came to save us from that, and the multitude of other punishments listed in Leviticus 26?

Yet, even though the future seems bleak, and the road ahead, unclear; we can have hope, for Jesus has overcome the world. But what does ‘overcome the world’ mean?

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” John 16:33 [AMPC]

Jesus has deprived the world; and all its tribulation, trials, distress and frustrations; of the power to harm us. Yes, you will most certainly still see the terrors, the arrows, the pestilence and the destruction. You will even see them in your offices, your classrooms and your neighborhood; but

“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.” Psalm 91: 5-7

For Jesus has conquered them. And His is not a temporary suppression either. For another translation tells us

“…I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” John 16:33 [AMP]

So with Jesus’ abiding victory over the stresses of the world, with His conquest complete, we can be of good cheer, take courage, be confident and undaunted when we look into the future, certain of the fact that Jesus will see to it that we will only experience good days and be kept in perfect peace.

But how shall we know this to be true? How will He make it happen? Well, let’s take what Jesus said in context.

When Jesus said this, He was rounding off a four chapter long exposition of the things to come. In that exposition, He told us very clearly how He is going to make sure that all that He said will come to pass. So what did He say?

It all started during the Passover.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” John 13:1

His time had come, and if we could be in Jesus’ shoes at that very moment, looking into His own future, we would see only one thing, His death on the cross; for once this exposition was over, He was arrested. Not a very pretty picture was it? Yet, despite the pain and anguish He must have felt, despite knowing that it had come time for Him to suffer, He still loved His own, to the end.

And that is the very first thing that we should know when we look into the future. No matter what happens, we who have put our trust in Jesus, we are His own, and indeed, He will love us to the end.

So, as a sign of His love, He left this lesson with them – He washed His disciples feet.

“…Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”” John 13:8

Jesus was showing them that they needed to be washed by Him in order to be a part of Him. This could not be done by anyone else. No pastor or minister could ever take His place, because none of us are perfect enough.

And now that we have received Jesus into our lives and accepted His sacrifice as our very own; we have been washed by the blood of Jesus Himself and we are now a part of Him. For indeed,

“…this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28

So now when we look into our future, we know that God is not angry with us, there is no punishment before us, and we are His for all eternity. For indeed,

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

And because Jesus loves us to the end, we can have even greater confidence that our days ahead will be filled only good days.

Now after washing His disciples feet, Jesus then revealed to them step two of His master plan to give them peace - the helper. He said,

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” John 14:16

And we all know what the Holy Spirit is here to do, don’t we?

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26

When we look into our future, there is no need to fear the uncertainty nor cringe at the impending difficulties, for the Holy Spirit is always there, abiding with us, teaching us and bringing to our remembrance all things that Jesus said to us.

And His presence is not seasonal; neither is it cyclical nor dependent on our actions. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit abides with us forever; and when we need help, we can be confident that He is always there, ready to guide us when we lose our way.

So beloved, now that you know that you have been washed by Jesus, now that you know that you are a part of Him, now that you know that the Holy Spirit is always abiding with you, and is always there to help and guide you, aren’t you comforted about the future? Doesn’t it give you peace?

But Jesus is not done, because after He told His disciples this, and before He was arrested, He prayed for us, and here are the three things which He said.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us,…” John 17:20-21

Who was it who wondered ‘What if God was one of us’? Well, He is not one of us, He is not a slob like one of us, not a stranger on the bus, trying to make His way Home. She got it all wrong. Instead, We are one of Them, mighty just like Them, no one a stranger and there’s no bus, because we are waiting for Jesus to bring us all home.

And how do I know this? Because Jesus then went on to say,

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:” John 17:22

What Jesus has, He has given you. All that Jesus is, He has made you. So hey, what is it that the future can throw at you that you, with the power of Jesus that is in you, cannot overcome?

And if you think I am kidding, this is what Jesus says,

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am…” John 17:24

Beloved child of God, Jesus wants you to be where He is, so how can Jesus ever think badly of you? Would you want someone you dislike to be where you are? Much less ask your father to make sure that he is there?

But you know what? The thing that gives me the most hope for tomorrow is this,

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you,…” John 16:26-27

Caught that last bit? Yes, the Father Himself loves you. You are not depending on discordant gods who can’t agree amongst themselves. And even if you still think that Jesus is just the Son and He’s got to ask the Father for permission, Jesus loves you so much that in this verse, He clears that doubt right from inside your head. Read it again, ‘the Father Himself loves you’.

So beloved child of God, Jesus loves you, our Father Himself loves you, and

“It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:34

When you look into your future, know that you are walking into it with Jesus and the Holy Spirit abiding with you. Our Father is also keeping a very close watch over you. With Them around, there is nothing you need fear.

So look forward with hope, and be of good cheer. For though tribulation may come, He has overcome the world and it shall not come near you.

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