I received two letters this week. One from a young mother who lost her first child in utero, during the eighth month of her pregnancy. The loss broke this couple’s hearts and shattered their faith. The second letter came two days later, from a woman whose husband had taken his life. She found him in the living room. Though a year had gone by, she wrote to say she is having a hard time moving on.
What do we possibly say? What hope can we offer?
Hope is the issue, friends; hope is the great question of our times.
The rate of antidepressant use has gone through the roof in the last 20 years; antidepressants have become the third most common prescription drug. Now, I believe in medication—it can be a life-saver. But I think it says something about us when depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Suicide rates are also skyrocketing—depending on the country it is the first or second leading cause of death among our young people.
However else you want to describe it, the world is in the midst of a crisis of hope.
And of course it is. Life is brutal. There is so much beauty, and so much suffering, and you can never really tell what’s coming next. After a while you just don’t know what to put your hopes in anymore.
What would you say is the great sustaining hope of your life these days?
If it is anything at all worth talking about, Christianity is supposed to be the triumphant entry of an astonishing hope breaking into human history. A hope above and beyond all former hopes. An unbreakable, unquenchable hope. But I’ll be honest—far too often what gets presented as the “hope” of Christianity feels like a bait-and-switch.
“We understand that you will eventually lose everything you love; that you have already lost so much. Everything you love and hold dear, every precious memory and place you will lose, but afterwards you get to go to this New Place Up Above!”
Like a game show, where you don’t win the car or the European vacation, but you do get some luggage and the kitchen knives.
The world doesn’t believe it. And there are good reasons why.
When you consider the pain, suffering and heartbreak contained in one children’s hospital, one refugee camp, one abusive home or war-torn village over the course of a single day, it’s almost too much to bear. But then consider that multiplied out across the planet, over all the days in a year, then down through history. It would take a pretty wild, astonishing and breathtaking hope to overcome the agony and trauma of this world.
How is God going to make it all right? How is He going to redeem all of the suffering and loss of this world—and in your own life? Our hearts cry out for restoration. Not escape—restoration. Offering this hurting world the eternal church service in the sky just isn’t going to cut it. Thank God. It’s a horrible view of the future and totally unbiblical.
Despite what you may have been told, Jesus didn’t focus our hopes on the great air-lift to heaven. In fact, you don’t spend your eternal life in heaven. That’s right—you spend it right here, on a renewed earth. Jesus promised “the renewal of all things” including the earth you love, every precious part of it and of your own story (Matthew 19:28-29). A day of great restoration is coming. Not annihilation—restoration. The climax of the entire Bible takes place with these words: “I’m making everything new” (Revelation 21:5).
In the book of Acts, Peter, declares the Renewal the Jews had long anticipated, only now made clear and possible through Jesus Christ:
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21).
Jesus is in heaven until the promised day when God will “restore everything,” or “until the time for the final restoration of all things.” That is a view of your story that will change everything.
How you think about and talk about your future impacts your current experience more than anything else. Children starting the long school year feel very differently about waking each morning than those who know summer vacation is just a few days away. The woman recently served divorce papers feels very differently about her life than the woman who wakes the day before her wedding.
If you knew that God was going to restore your life and everything you love any day, if you believed a great and glorious goodness was coming to you—not in a vague heaven but right here on this earth—you would have a hope to see you through anything. You would have an anchor for your soul, “an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God” (Hebrews 6:19).
The world is aching for hope. We have the most breathtaking hope to offer—the restoration of all things. Now that will open many conversations.
This article is adapted from the upcoming book “All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love” and was used with permission.