Hope can be hard to come by — at least, that’s what people think. According to the American Psychological Association, the suicide rate in the United States has risen nearly 33 percent since 1999. Nothing so clearly suggests a lack of hope.
Maybe it’s because we have an arsenal of feeble hopes. Money and relationships. Power and possessions. But none of those things last forever. And when those feeble hopes disappear, we think we have no hope at all.
Nothing challenges our hope as much as death. For it’s in that moment — as we gaze upon a cemetery stone — that life looks shorter than we often think. Just last week, I carried the casket of my great-grandmother into a hearse. But God continues to remind me of four words from Hebrews 6. And I want to share them with you: we have this hope.
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:19-20 ESV).
The author writes these words in the context of God keeping His promise to Abraham. The Bible reads, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, ‘Surely I will bless you and multiply you.’ And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (v. 13-15 ESV).
Most of us are familiar with the Abrahamic covenant. In Genesis 12, God calls Abraham to leave his home for a different land (v. 1). And God makes the following promise to him: “‘… I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (v. 2-3 ESV).
Abraham was seventy-five years old. His wife had no children. And God had just promised to make from him a great nation of many offspring. In fact, it would be another twenty-five years before Abraham and Sarah had their promised son. Genesis 21:5 says, “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him” (ESV).
Abraham waited a long time, but he obtained the promise. After all, when God makes a promise, He keeps it. Even when that promise seems next to impossible.
Consider what the apostle Paul writes about Abraham’s hope: “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God” (Rom. 4:18-20 ESV). Indeed, Abraham is often noted for his faith throughout the Bible.
Despite his unlikely circumstances and physical incapabilities, Abraham hopes in the promise of God. And in Hebrews 6, God calls us to consider the example of Abraham and place our hope in Christ.
The author of Hebrews further explains the implications surrounding God’s promises (6:16-18). And it’s in the certainty of His promises that we find comfort in this life. Just like Abraham. As the author writes, “… we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (v. 18 ESV). And that’s the context of verses 19-20. In fact, let’s return to those verses one last time.
This hope is a sure and steadfast anchor of our souls. And that hope is Jesus Christ. The work He has accomplished in bringing us into the very presence of God. As the author describes, Jesus has entered the “inner place behind the curtain” as our perfect high priest. Now, we have this hope. A hope of being reconciled to God through the blood of Christ. A hope of eternal salvation in the presence of our majestic Father.
As I processed the loss of my great-grandmother, the Lord brought these verses to my mind. And it brought encouragement to my soul.
By faith, we believe that Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be with God forever and ever. But like Abraham, we find ourselves waiting. For the time we see our Savior face to face. And for the time we see our brothers and sisters who have already gone to be with Him. May we walk by faith, following in the footsteps of Abraham. Even when we can’t see, God keeps His promises.
We have this hope.
Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at www.isaiahpauley.com