A Certain Hope in Uncertain Days: 30 Days of Hope-filled Focus
Day 16: My Hope is in the Lord
“My Hope is in the Lord” is one of my favorite hymns because in its clear presentation of the gospel message it focuses on the solid foundation of the believer’s hope.
Verse 1 of the hymn goes as follows: “My hope is in the Lord, who gave Himself for me and paid the price for all my sins on Calvary.” Then there’s the chorus: “For me, He died, for me He lives and everlasting light and life He freely gives.”
This first verse speaks to the sure foundation of hope that we have in Jesus through His saving work on the cross. He “gave Himself for me” echoes what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20. He died “once for all” for sin, paying the “price for all my sins on Calvary” (1 Peter 3:18). The gospel message, “Jesus died for sin and rose from the dead,” and its promise of “light and life” represents a true, abiding, and unassailable message of hope to all who believe (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
Verse 2, “No merit of my own, His anger to suppress; My only hope is found In Jesus’ righteousness.”
If you were to ask people, most would say that people make their way to heaven by being and doing good. The religious cults all teach such doctrines. But the Bible makes it clear that no one can be saved that way. Saul of Tarsus had an impressive religious resume. He had an outstanding religious pedigree, an unrivaled religious passion, a superior religious position, and an exemplary religious practice (Philippians 3:4-6). But he counted all such religious assets to be rubbish and cast them aside in order that he might gain Christ “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of (his) own…but that which comes through faith in Christ (Philippians 3:8-9; Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; John 1:12-13).
Verse 3, “And now for me He stands, before the Father’s throne. He shows His wounded hands, And names me as His own.”
Biblical hope is a present tense certainty regarding an unseen, future, reality. Its foundation lies in the person and promises of God. But in the here and now there are things that work against hope, even attempting to extinguish it altogether (i. e. trials and troubles, enemies and obstacles, missteps and failures, etc.). In that context the message of verse 3 is especially helpful. There is One who intercedes for us. The One who died and rose again, is “at the right hand of God” and is “interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). To intercede is “to plead to someone regarding the needs of someone else.” Jesus does that for us, but he pleads for us not on the basis of our innocence or relative goodness, but instead on the basis of His purchase of us by His blood. We belong to Him. He is the “Shepherd and Overseer of (our) souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Since we’ve been declared righteous in Jesus, no one can condemn us, and nothing can work to separate us from His love.
Verse 4, “His grace has planned it all, ‘Tis mine but to believe; And recognize His work of love and Christ receive.”
What is grace? The general answer given is “unmerited favor.” According to that definition it is God giving to us what we don’t deserve. That’s a clinical and theologically correct definition to a term, in speaking of the nature of God, that transcends our capacity to fully comprehend. But it helps perhaps, to break that definition down into its two parts. There is the unmerited side. What do we deserve? Because of sin we are all born into this world deserving—and destined to receive—condemnation (Cf. Romans 3:23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:21). But then there is the “favor” side of the equation. What have we received? Ephesians 1:3 sums it up this way, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” When it comes to salvation, its all about grace. From beginning to end, its all by grace. The Apostle Paul asked the question “What do you have that you did not receive” (1 Corinthians 4:7) and then stated of his own experience “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Were it not for grace there could be no hope. But despite our sin, our grace-filled Savior has worked to save us. Not only has He saved us, through His poverty He has made us to be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Any spiritual advantage I’ve ever possessed, I’ve possessed not by my doing—because I somehow deserve it or have earned it–but because God has given it to me. And God is a giving God (Cf. James 1:13). Because God is rich in grace and mercy, I can remain ever hopeful amidst the troubles and trials of life.