Have you ever fallen victim to wishful thinking? Of course you have. We all have at some point in our lives. In our minds we knew the truth but our hearts refused to accept it. Rather than making decisions based on sound reason we threw rational thought to the wind. Rather than building on the firm foundation of truth we trusted our future to pipe dreams and flights of fancy. The real problem is that most wishful thinking has no basis in reality. It ignores evidence in favor of personal pursuits and pleasure. It rejects truth in favor of illusion. And it renounces reality in favor of fantasy.
Need some practical examples? Here’s a few. It’s the married couple that refuses to acknowledge there are major issues in their marriage. It’s the parents who deny the evident signs that their child is struggling. It’s the person who will not schedule a doctor’s appointment in spite of the pain. It’s the addict who cannot admit he has a problem. It’s the pastor who cannot admit he needs a sabbatical. It’s the church that has grown cold to the hurting world around them. In each case, someone is ignoring the truth, rejecting the apparent evidence that they are headed down a one-way street to destruction. Their world is crumbling all around them but they hold fast to their wishful thinking, somehow convincing themselves that it really isn’t that bad. It’s only in the aftermath of their wishful thinking that they realize the futility of such an exercise. Divorce… suicide… loss… disappointment… bankruptcy… despair… even death. These things have a way of clearing away the fog of wishful thinking, of opening our eyes to the truth. Unfortunately, by that point in time it’s usually too late to undo the damage.
Fortunately, there is an answer…
I love the opening verse from Paul’s first letter to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:1 we read these words, “…Christ Jesus, who is our hope,…” From the very beginning Paul reminds young Timothy of a central truth. There is only one real and lasting source of hope in this life, the Person of Christ Jesus. No sooner has Paul begun this letter than he reminds Timothy of the importance of this message. People in this world are in desperate need of hope. That hope can only be found in one place. The struggle for most ministers is that we have a tendency to drift from the central truth. I’m not pointing the finger in this case. I’ve done it myself. It’s tempting to compromise our message and give in to popular opinion. It’s easier to echo the words of television personalities and leading self-help gurus. The masses love them and there is a sense in which their words seem to echo truth. We become motivational and inspirational speakers. We speak a measure of truth but it has become so watered down that it now lacks all its potency and vitality. It sounds great. It attracts the masses. It earns us recognition and admiration. But in the final analysis such messages fall short. Any message not built on the hope of Christ is ultimately nothing more than wishful thinking.
In the Bible hope is understood as being “an absolute certainty.” In other words, the basis of your trust and expectation is guaranteed. It is certain. Such is our Savior. Christ Jesus is our hope. His every word is a promise that cannot be undone. His every plan is for our good. His every purpose is founded upon His providential care and love for His people. No matter the situation or circumstance we need not be afraid. We need not worry about tomorrow or tremble in the shadows of uncertainty. He is our hope. Our past is forgiven. It is an absolute certainty. In the present He is causing all things to work together for the good. That is an absolute certainty. And He is preparing a place for us in heaven with Him. That is an absolute certainty. Past, present, and future… Christ Jesus is our hope.
He is our hope. He is hope for that struggling marriage. He is hope for those desperate parents. He is hope for that hurting child, the sick person, the despairing addict, the wearied pastor, and the wayward church. That is Paul’s point in verse one. Timothy was about to be entrusted with a sacred task, the care of a young church filled with hurting people. Timothy was going to encounter all kinds of situations. But no matter the need there was an answer. No matter the hurt there was a healing. No matter the bondage there was a deliverance. For every person the message would be the same… Christ Jesus is our hope.