It was Shakespeare who once wrote, “Now is the winter of our discontent…” Boy was he right, at least as far as this winter is concerned. To me, wind, snow, cold and ice are ALL four letter words. (I know “ice” isn’t, but it should be.)
With January now finally behind us we move that much closer to spring and to the hope and expectation of warmer and better weather. Yes, we know spring will come, we know each day moves us closer to those days of 70 degree weather and bright sunshine. We know things will get better.
There’s a spiritual lesson to be found in such hope. It seems to me that there is something built into all of us where we long for something or someplace that’s better, brighter or more complete.
This desire is made evident in our lives in various ways: we study, train and work to become a better and more accomplished student, athlete, or employee. We pursue a better job or career; we invest our time into improving our home and our property. We raise our children with the expectation that they will attain more than what we were able to do.
We hope for better days and pray things improve for ourselves, our families, and our country. This is natural and normal and good. Unless…unless you think this is all that life is about.
If our hope is only for the things of this world, if our hope is rooted merely in physical stuff or social status, then we’ve missed the point of our very existence. The stuff of this world, according to Scripture, is temporary. It doesn’t last. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel:
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Have you noticed yet that new stuff doesn’t stay new very long? That fast, new computer will be slow, outdated technology in less than three years. That shiny new car gets ugly and grimy over the course of a few months (or a few days with our weather). It doesn’t take long before that new house will need a new roof and a remodeled interior.
If our hope (and along with it, our identity, our happiness, our sense of contentment) is based on earthly treasures, then it turns out that we’ll never really attain the hope that we seek. We will always need or want something else, something more, something greater…because there will always be a faster computer, a nicer car or a newer home to be had.
The alternative is to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” This means we are to understand the hope that’s been built into us isn’t to be found only in our desire for a better life here; our real hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness. (Yeah, I’m borrowing a line from an old hymn!)
You see, God has put into us a desire for Him and a longing to be with Him forever as citizens of His eternal Kingdom. The problem is, this desire for that which only He can give has been corrupted by our sinfulness. Instead of finding joy, peace and satisfaction in God, we seek those things in stuff that doesn’t last and in things we can’t keep anyway. (Ever seen a U-Haul on the back of a hearse?)
It’s a good thing we’ve got Jesus. His blood (shed for us on the cross as He gave up His life as payment for our sin) and His righteousness (He is the sinless Son of God who is right in every way and makes us right as well) bring us a hope that is beyond all other hope. Our crucified and risen Lord Jesus gives us an eternal hope and the absolute promise of something better coming, something even better than a warm spring day after a miserable winter of full of four-letter words.
Yes, we can and do hope for the soon arrival of spring. But by the grace of God, and through faith in His Son, we have a hope that is above all other hopes. We have the sure and certain hope of God’s One and only. He is Jesus, He is our Savior. He promises to those who believe the treasure of eternal life and a place of incredible contentment and joy, a place where everything will be forever good, forever right.