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I have begun thinking, studying and praying about writing a book on hope. I have already written a few preliminary things. And I want to share one of these with you today.

I have been frustrated at reading books that offer hope with no foundation of ultimate hope. They treat hope as if it were merely a hopeful feeling that could be drummed up without reference to our ultimate predicament. I want to show hope from the beginning of our anxiety. I have recently heard this problem posed in several different ways. The essence of it is that God created us even though He already knew that Satan would tempt Adam and Eve, and we would all be plunged into sin.

First, let's examine the nature of God and reasons He created the world. As a tri-personal being the Father, Son and Holy Spirit loved one another with infinite love from eternity. The same Bible that affirms God's omniscience says God is love. This defines His nature. He did not create us out of any need. He created us that we might be caught up in His love.

Now, there are several possible worlds that God could have created. He could have created no world at all. Or He could have created a beautiful universe without any sentient beings. He could have created an a-moral world where it didn't matter what we did. He could have created beings that were not tempted and were programmed only to do right. But love would not be possible in a world without free will and the risk of failure. There could be no true devotion in a world where rebellion was impossible. In a different world there could be no moral courage. There would be no heroic faith or sacrificial love. There could be no repentance or redemption in a world without freedom. I am aware that the humility of repentance can be fearsome and painful. But for those who submit to God, it becomes one of the most fulfilling facets of our lives.

The primary issue of right and wrong is not merely obeying a law. It is love. Jesus said all the law and the prophets were summed up in the commands to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds and our neighbors as ourselves. Paul said love is the fulfillment of the law. And God draws us to come, even as sinners, into the redemption, embrace and expression of His love.

God already knew everything that would come when He created the world and said it was good. If we look at things the way they are now, it is hard to say the world is good or that this is the best of all possible worlds. But that is like deciding a ball game is lost before it is over. You might say, "This is a terrible game. My team is so far behind they will never catch up!"

But what if at the very end your team comes from behind against impossible odds to win after all? Is that a terrible game because your team was embarrassingly behind? No that game is far better than a game where your team won easily.

Well, God's omniscient foreknowledge extends beyond today. And while things look bad at this point, we can trust Him to bring them to glorious conclusion in the end.

You can trust God because He is good, benevolent and loving. The same Bible that reveals His power and foreknowledge tells us He is good and the source of all good. I believe we know this instinctively.

And I believe we can know the source of accusations against God. The same one who continually accuses you before God accuses God of injustice. But God who saw our failure before He created us, also saw the cross where our redemption was purchased. And while He will not force healing on those who are determined to reject Him, His grace is freely offered. And He sees the ultimate conclusion. In Revelation 15 we read,

"All nations will come and worship before you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed."

We put our faith in God, in the promise of His word, to bring all things to a satisfactory conclusion. To doubt this is to believe that the ultimate, all powerful, loving Creator will not work things out in the end. What is the point of that belief?

There is certainly no hope related to such faith. If the creator is not good, goodness is smuggled in to our reality. If God were not love, there could be no selfless, unconditional love. If you believe this, your hope is hopeless. Your only hope is in something or someone less than God. You are trusting in the wickedness of our world. Your hope is in the devil himself and in his vision of the world. How does that faith make life better or easier? It leaves us screaming in terror at what must come.

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Comment by David Young on May 11, 2016 at 12:03am

Amen, Andrew, Amen!

By the way, I was overwhelmed by your response to my cancer. The only thing I can say is, "Thank you."

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on May 10, 2016 at 10:47pm

Well said as always, David!  Scripture tells us that "greater love has no one than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends."  God demonstrated his love for us in the death of his Son.  And the ultimate hope we have lies in his resurrection.  This hope is ours by God's grace through faith.  So, there we have the big three - faith, hope, and love.

And isn't this the basis on which we pray?  If God were not a loving God, what would be the point of prayer?  I suppose we could approach him in a type of fear akin to terror, as animists approach their gods.  But our prayer isn't based on trying to appease an unappeasable god.  Our prayer is the response of faith to a loving God. Our prayer is hopeful prayer - not the type of hopeful that is more like "wishful thinking" but the type of hopeful that anticipates the response of a loving Father.  The type of hope that knows that our God is capable of "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine".  What a God we approach in prayer! 

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