The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope.Barbara Kingsolver
Five years ago, I would’ve said that I had already figured out what I hoped for, and it didn’t seem to come from God. I had a great husband, a fun toddler, a cooing newborn, and a beautiful home. I was secure, valuable, and happy.
The world—and all of its hope—was at my fingertips.
Fast forward a few months, to the day my husband asked for a divorce and left. With him went my security, value, and happiness. I looked around in shock at my son, baby, and home, and I felt utterly lost. I was insecure, inadequate, and devastated.
My world—and all of its hope—was gone.
The Uncomfortable Truth
Hope wasn’t to be found in my husband, and I discovered it wasn’t in me, either. It wasn’t even in well-meaning family and friends who lashed out in anger on my behalf. At first, I found some relief in their ability to say what I could not. However, soon I was sinking in their hatred. I couldn’t find a solid place to stand.
My crisis forced me to face an uncomfortable truth: This world delivers disappointments. Its ground shifts unpredictably. Its hope is unreliable. In the months following such painful awareness, one thought surfaced over and over, demanding an answer.
If this world does not offer lasting hope, then where can hope be found?
The Promise of Godly Hope
The question of hope is universal; it isn’t limited to any one culture, geographic location, religion, gender, or age. Hope is vital to all.
The Bible was written by more than forty people, all of whom sought the answer to this very question. Although they lived in different cultures and at different times, they all discovered the same answer. They all point to God as the source of lasting joy and satisfaction.
Throughout the Bible, God offers to replace agony with peace, hate with love, and confusion with clarity. Difficult situations won’t disappear; some days carry enormous pain. But in the midst of suffering, he promises something real, sacred, and solid on which to build a foundation and sustain a meaningful life.
He offers real hope.
In all of its pages, perhaps no other verse in the Bible better sums up the hope that God offers than these words in 2 Corinthians 4:16–18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
In these verses, we see two clear instructions for a hopeful life.
1. Do Not Lose Heart
The first two verses provide God’s initial instruction: do not give up.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”1
Do you feel weary? God acknowledges that you are “wasting away” in a world full of troubles. He understands that your body suffers in this corrupt world. Your security is threatened by death, divorce, war, sickness, job loss, aging, money problems, and relationship issues.
God promises daily renewal of our hearts and minds. Although your troubles hurt you outwardly, they do not have to have the power to destroy you inwardly. God offers internal protection and restoration. He has the power to transform your tired, worn spirit to one of strength and capability. In fact, the Bible tells us that through Christ we are made new.2
What is your biggest trouble? With great compassion, God sees your trouble and calls it “light” and “momentary.” These words may be difficult to understand or stomach when your whole world feels like it’s falling apart. But that’s exactly the point: The world is falling apart. This world is slowly wasting away.
From God’s perspective, this world and its troubles are not as big and powerful as you may believe. They are temporary. In contrast, your inward spirit is strengthened and made durable through him. He offers hope that is bigger and more enduring than your biggest trouble.
He even says that your troubles are “achieving” something for you. From his perspective, your suffering is worthwhile if it reveals the uncomfortable truth about the state of this world. Your temporary pain may lead you to discover God and his lasting hope. He boldly promises that what he offers in eternity far outweighs even your biggest heartache.
2. Focus on What You Can’t See
The third verse provides the second instruction: focus on unseen things.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.3
God says that everything we see around us is temporary. Hope that is founded on one’s accomplishments, money, possessions, or self is doomed to be short-lived. Eventually, every physical part of this world will crumble, fail, and decay.
God tells you to set your eyes instead on the unseen things that never fade. What does that mean? God wants you to focus on things that are not conditional on worldly circumstances. He encourages you to look with determination beyond worldly distractions, earthly anxieties, and fleeting satisfactions—money, sex, position, possessions—to his eternal promises.
God says that when you look expectantly to him, he provides things that are invisible, unmovable, unfailing, and infinitely more valuable than the things of this world. He promises faith, healing, justice, and mercy. God offers joy, freedom, strength, and perseverance. He gives us security, peace, purpose, guidance, and salvation.
God offers hope.
- The Holy Bible, New International Version © 2011, 2 Corinthians 4:16–17.
- See The Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Ephesians 4:20–24.
- Ibid., 2 Corinthians 4:18.
- Photo Credit: Nabi Tang / Stocksy.com.