December 20, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Hope Needs a Reason

Hope is good for you. But hope in what?

 

Psychologists at the University of East Anglia say, “How hope can make you happier with your lot.” Culturing hope in people could prevent them from engaging in risky behaviors. “Relative deprivation can trigger negative emotions like anger and resentment, and it has been associated with poor coping strategies like risk taking, drinking, taking drugs or gambling,” they say. But not everybody who is deprived does these things. They wanted to know why.

They interviewed 55 volunteers to see how deprived they felt, and watched how they performed in a game involving risk. In another experiment, they examined 125 volunteers who had gambled in the past year, and asked them how hopeful they felt. The short answer was that those who expressed a more hopeful attitude in life were less likely to take risks in gambling.

The research team say that nurturing hope in people who are unhappy with their lot could protect against harmful behaviours like drinking and gambling.

They never thought to ask what made these people hopeful, or what they hoped in. There is such a thing as false hope. Being ‘happy with your lot’ is less like hope and more like resignation or capitulation, submitting to reality without believing it will get better.

The Bible is a book of hope standing on a firm foundation. Old Testament believers hoped for their Messiah. New Testament believers now look back at the Messiah who came and paid the penalty for sin. Now they hope for His promised return, and the “blessed hope” that the grave is not the end, but the doorway to eternal life. Paul said in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” That’s much better than being resigned to your lot in life. That is abounding in hope, with joy and peace.

At Christmas we celebrate the arrival of the sure foundation for hope. The Christ follower has a hope that can survive sickness, lifelong suffering (watch this film), and death, because it is rooted in history and evidence. Many have rejoiced in the hope that Christ has brought to the world. Will you join the millions who have found a relationship with Jesus Christ to be the turning point from darkness to light? You can by repenting of your sin and trusting Him. You can do this alone in your own heart with a sincere prayer like this:

“Lord Jesus, I know you are my Creator. I know I am a sinner, and I’m sorry for my sins. I now choose to turn from my sins to you. I believe that You died on the cross and rose again for me. You said you would come into my heart if I would open the door, so I invite you into my heart, to be first in my life. I believe you do come in, right now like you promised. Thank you for giving me eternal life. Now I belong to you! Help me to live for you in all I do. Amen.”

We hope this Christmas, despite the woes of this terrible year 2020, will bring you what we all need most: hope, decorated with love, joy, and peace.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

—Charles Wesley

 

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