I once taught a workshop on spiritual leadership to a group of women in the tiny African country of Burundi. Our partner, ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry), was working hard to help build church and community leadership in Burundi and neighboring Rwanda after a long and brutal civil war. My message was on the Biblical topic of using one’s spiritual gifts to serve others. A portion of our time was devoted to the importance of following our God-given hopes and dreams.
When I began talking about our dreams, my translator abruptly stopped. There was no word in the Burundian language, she said, that could be translated as “dream.” After thinking for a moment, she came up with her own definition. To convey the idea of a dream, she combined two words: “Future hope.”
Later, I found myself reflecting on the concept of future hope. Of all people, we Christians should understand the longing to look toward our future with a sense of hope. But for us, this hope extends far past our mortal life and into eternity.
Nineteenth century preacher and theologian Charles Spurgeon had this to say about eternal hope:
“Our hope is special, because it is a hope laid up for us in heaven; a hope therefore which the world does not care one whit about.” The worldly man, Spurgeon added, “hopes that tomorrow may be as today, and yet more abundant, but cares nothing for the land where time has ceased to flow. He hopes for riches, or he hopes for fame; he hopes for long life and prosperity; he hopes for pleasure and domestic peace; the whole range of his hope is within the compass of his eye: but our hope has passed beyond the sphere of sight. Ours is a hope which demands nothing of time, or earth, but seeks its all in the world to come.”
As we ponder our blessings this Thanksgiving Day, let’s reflect not only on the blessings we enjoy in this world, but let us fix our eyes on the blessings of the world to come. We can thank God that we have hope which is stored up for us in heaven, secured for us by Jesus Christ, and kept safe from the hope-killers of this age that would seek to rob our dreams.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven…” (Colossians 1:3-5).