WISH VS HOPE 12-2-18
Wish vs Hope
December 2, 2018
There is a song that some of you might remember, written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach, and recorded by Dusty Springfield back in 1964. It was titled “Wishin’ and Hopin’”. Most people would say that those two words basically mean the same thing. After all, even the thesaurus lists the word “hope” as a synonym of “wish”. But to Christians, there is a world of difference between the two.
People wish for a lot of things in life. They wish to be successful. They wish to be healthy. They wish to be happy. And yet, for many success seems elusive, because they define it by the world’s view of success, and not by God’s. They always are looking for a better job, a better car, a better house - even a better spouse! And even with all of the achievements of modern medicine, many find good health as elusive as success. Medical bills and health insurance drain their finances, and still don’t always provide the benefits that are wished for. And happiness? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Chasing after happiness is like chasing rainbows. Remember the song by Judy Garland? “I'm always chasing rainbows - Watching clouds drifting by - My schemes are just like all my dreams - Ending in the sky - Some fellows look and find the sunshine - I always look and find the rain - Some fellows make a winning sometimes - I never even make a gain - Believe me, I'm always chasing rainbows - Waiting to find a little bluebird in vain.” The faster you chase after happiness, the faster it runs away from you. And like the Scottish proverb from the 1600’s says, “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”
So how is hope different for Christians, than for those who have not put their faith in Christ? Our hopes are not mere wishes. Our hopes are guaranteed to come true through our faith in Jesus! When we rely completely on God for direction in this life, follow His Word, and the Holy Spirit within us, success is not elusive. Listen to this promise in Proverbs 3: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.” Some people read book upon book in hopes of finding the key to health, wealth, and happiness. But all you need is one book, The Bible!
But don’t misunderstand. God never promises that He will rain down money from heaven if we aren’t willing to work. He never promises that he will make us financially successful so that we can spend it all on our selfish wants. In fact, the Bible says “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat" (1 Thessalonians 3:10) and “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). As Christians our most heartfelt hopes are for something far better.
Our hopes for our life here on earth in regards to health and wealth are so that we can better serve the Lord and the purpose for which he has called us. So that we are better able to reach those who are lost, and better able to help those in need. And if our hearts are in the right place, then God most certainly will bless us with all that we need. As the apostle Paul told the church in Philippi, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), and as Jesus himself said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:31-33).
But our greatest hopes extend beyond this world. For we are guaranteed something so wonderful that it far exceeds anything we could possibly hope for here on earth. We have a home in heaven waiting for us. We don’t just wish there was a heaven, and that we would go there someday. We know there is a heaven, and we know we are going there because Jesus died for our sins and rose again, and we have put our faith in him and him alone for our salvation. John 3:16 says, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Notice it doesn’t say “so that those who believe in him and lead a perfect life” or “so that those who wish hard enough”. It says “everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” This is our hope! Not our wish, but our hope that is 100% guaranteed by the creator of the universe, as is every promise ever made by God and recorded in His Word.
That little baby that was born in a manger in Bethlehem, the miraculous birth we celebrate every Christmas, was God fulfilling His promise to the prophet Isaiah, “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23). The hope of Christmas is not a wish for a certain present under the tree. It is not even a wish for nobler things like world peace. The hope of Christmas is Jesus, who was born as one of us, to pay the price for our sins, to be the perfect atoning sacrifice, to open the gates of heaven for us.
So as we begin this season of Advent, I pray that every one of you hearing or reading this message, is filled with the true hope of Christmas. Amen.
Opening Video: "All My Hope" (Crowder) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tElvdnId4Q
Closing Video: "My Feet Are on the Rock" (I Am They) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiLom70fBpQ