Eldon Peterson

Eldon Peterson

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A few years back a friend told me about the verse that I had shared with him that brought him to faith. I was surprised by the verse that had impacted him. The primary verse that I had wanted him to understand was 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” As powerful as this testifies of what God did for us through Christ, it was the verses that follow that opened his eyes.

“God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, 'At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.' Indeed, the 'right time' is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (6:1-2) He said that this was the first time that he had realized that salvation was something that he could have now. He had always been told that it was something that could be his in the future — something that he was striving to attain. The difference is everything.

Placing our hope in something that cannot be known now can leave us feeling empty. Such a hope is like the dangling carrot that keeps us moving in a direction but is never realized, it never delivers. I find this to aptly describe what we are facing today. Some are placing their hope in the election, others in a cure for COVID-19 and some in “everyone just getting along.” I understand this, but such a hope will not bring us the peace we long for.

I’m not suggesting that we give up, but I am suggesting that there is something greater that we can and must put our hope in. For what if our candidate doesn’t win, or the pandemic doesn’t end before Thanksgiving or the cultural tensions don’t diminish? What then? Our only real hope will come from remembering the promises that are ours in Christ.

Consider how Hebrews 11:1 defines faith: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Can you see the connection between faith and hope? Neither faith nor hope are blind; they are both rooted in confidence and assurance.

Unfortunately, for many, faith and hope is less like this verse and more like the nursery rhyme, “Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.” If our prayers resemble such wishful thinking rather than the conviction found in Hebrews 11:1 then we should not be surprised when tumultuous circumstances cause us anxiety.

Why? Because we live in a fragile world where nothing is certain. Without a sure foothold, when pressures come we will lose our footing. I am afraid that this fall will likely bring times of even greater conflicts and pressures. If we are to remain standing, then we must examine our footholds to be sure that they can support us.

So what is the solution? To hold on tight to what is certain. To hold on tight to the promises of God. Which promises? In addition to the two from 2 Corinthians, we can also hold onto the promise that God gives to His children, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Our greatest fear may be in the uncertainties that we have about tomorrow. But when our faith is in the Lord, when our hope is in what he has done for us in Christ, then we can lay claim to His promises. That is what the author of Hebrews tells us saying, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (13:5)

I pray that as you consider the uncertainties that you are facing this fall that you may rest in knowing that your hope will not come from knowing what the future holds but in knowing who Christ is. As the Psalmist confesses, “Lord, I trust you. I have said, “You are my God.” My life is in your hands. Save me from my enemies’ grasp. Save me from those who are chasing me.” (Psalms 31:14-15)

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