Hope Fulfilled

1 Peter 1:  13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

As someone who participated in a number of distance events such as running marathons, x-country ski marathons and even multi-day endurance triathlons, the topic of “hope” has significant meaning to me.  Whether on long training runs, rides or skis on unfamiliar courses with my buddy Doug, or racing an unfamiliar course, when it neared the end I had a longing, a hope that the finish line would be around the next bend.  When that wasn’t the case, I often became deflated, especially when I had already bonked (for those unfamiliar with endurance sports, that is when you are completely depleted of glycogen stores and have no energy).  One clear memory I have is when I was 18 and running my first marathon.  I had trained, set a plan, had my arm marked up with mile splits – I had everything set for a sub 3hr marathon.  Everything was going well, and even though I had slipped a bit after the 20-mile mark, by mile 25 I was excited to see that I was on track and I just kept my pace.  I knew it was only 1.219 miles now to the finish and I was going to reach my goal.  I soon realized though that something was terribly wrong as I looked for the finish, but it never seemed to come.  Some of the previous mile markers were wrong so the last distance to the finish was way off and I ran 3:00:54. I hoped for that finish line, but my hope was deferred.  12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

If you choose to be a disciple of Christ, you choose a difficult calling.  Some people might say, but there is nothing better than being a follower of Christ.  It’s true, as we have an incredible inheritance awaiting us, and we have the added joy of walking with Jesus today, but if you have truly made a decision to be a sold-out believer in Christ, you will also face much pain and heartache.  That is why many disciples turned away from Jesus (John 6: 25-70); what Jesus was asking was too difficult.  Most people are unwilling to forsake “all that” they have to be Jesus’ disciples (Luke 14: 26-33).

The key to finding hope, however, is found in today’s scripture from 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”  Jesus Christ is our hope.  If your hope is in the government, if it is in yourself or someone else you love, you will always end up disappointed, because Jesus is the only answer for our sinful world.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).  This is the “grace” referred to in the scripture from Peter.  I set my hope on the grace that God has shown a wretched sinner such as me.  While there are days where I long for the finish line, but instead feel the weight of the world, I have a hope that will one day be fulfilled and I rejoice in that.  I also rejoice that Jesus never asks me to walk through the challenges of this world on my own, but longs to hear me reach out to Him to work together with his yoke (Matthew 11:30).

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