“I hope it’s not cold tomorrow.” “I hope we win our game.” “I hope I land that job.”
Have you ever considered how often we use the word hope? It is commonly used in the context of something we work toward and desire. Yet, because there are so many variables in life outside of our control there are no guarantees. If you live in the north and it’s January, it’s probably going to be cold. The team you’re facing has been working hard and they’re also hoping for a win. There may be hundreds of hopeful applicants for the same job you’re seeking. This kind of hope is sometimes just wishful thinking.
There is a difference between what we hope for and what we put our hope in. Hope in things like fame and fortune can be fleeting; they can be in your hand one moment and gone the next. True hope is always based on something more than a wish. True hope is founded on fact and is expressed with certainty. Having true hope is perhaps never more important than at the end of life.
Last week Mormon President Thomas Monson died. News articles lauded his compassionate contributions to helping people in need. Many Mormons lift him up as an example to all. One comment, reflective of many, came from a user named ‘smitxxx[i]’: “You have inspired us to try and do likewise. We hope someday to be where you are.”
“…try…do…hope.” Such hope is based on the wish that our imperfect efforts will be enough. Sadly, that is no hope at all. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I suppose a person could go to a casino and hope to get lucky and win big. But when the stakes are between heaven and hell, you don’t want to roll the dice.
How blessed we are to know the message of true hope! In a dark world where nothing seems certain, the Bible shares God’s promise of sins forgiven and a place in heaven isn’t just a possibility; Jesus’ nail-marked hands and empty tomb guarantee it. In fact, this is the only sure hope we have.
At the end of a person’s life, Christians don’t focus on what the individual did. We celebrate what Jesus has done. Look for ways to explore that contrast in your conversations with Mormon friends. Ask what they want people to say someday at their funeral. Explain how you want your funeral to focus on what Christ accomplished for you. Consider inviting them to a Christian funeral where they can see the difference true hope makes.
“I hope…” Many of the things people hope for are uncertain. However, when our hope is in Christ it is certain and cannot fail. So, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).