In The Insanity of God, author Nik Ripken recounts his time in Russia and the Ukraine where he interviewed numerous pastors and church leaders who lived under communism. His question was this: How did so many Russians and Ukrainians keep their faith strong over decades of communist oppression of believers?
One man shared this story with Ripken.
I remember when my parents gathered our family together and my father said, “Children, all over this district the communist authorities are slowly starving to death believers who refuse to deny their faith. If our family has to starve for Jesus, then let us do so with joy.”
I can’t read accounts such as this one without asking myself the deep probing question of where my hope is anchored. I mean really anchored. Peter tells us that hope like this is visible and can be seen by others. In fact, it should be so visible that they actually ask us to explain it to them.
But this kind of hope doesn’t come natural to us—quite the contrary—and even when we have it, there’s a battle raging to maintain it.
Most people think of hope as something uncertain, something they desire to happen or to get or to experience; maybe they will and maybe they won’t. Who knows. But biblical hope is an entirely different species, rooted in the grace of God. Biblical hope stands firm in confidence and expectation because it is grounded in the faithfulness of God.
How could the father in the story above encourage his family to stand firm in the face of suffering and starve for Jesus with joy? His hope, certainty, faith, and joy rested in the God who saves HIs people to the uttermost.
So when I turn on the news and hear about threats coming from North Korea, or the latest drug epidemic spreading across our country, or another senseless murder, or another terrorist attack, I stop and ask myself: “Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God!”