As a college professor (as well as a pastor), I see discouragement all the time. Now. some Presidential candidates don’t seem to ever get discouraged (for example, Ron Paul). But, we all hit the doldrums of our faith, when the wind of eagerness seems to have left our sailcloth, and the gentle breezes of mundane life move us so slowly towards our goal that we wonder if we are on course or not.
The Apostle Paul, familiar with the discouragement of others, knew that times come for all travelers when progress seems frustratingly slow. Rather than seeing these occasions as the norm, he knew that remembering the goal, and Who was in charge of the journey, brings us from weariness to endurance.
After telling the Colossians that he has thanked God for their faith and love (see Col. 1:3-4), which are evidence of the certainty of their course, Paul reminds them that he is also grateful…
…because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, -Col. 1:5, ESV
The hope of all believers is already a certainty. The prize which every Christian yearns for and strives for is already laid up,waiting. It is reserved for us like a sumptuous wedding banquet that has already been prepared for the newlyweds. It is like a luxuriously-appointed hotel suite that has already been prepared for an eagerly-awaited but world-weary guest.
The security of that prize is that it is held in Heaven, where rust cannot corrupt it and time cannot diminish it. The Holder of that promise is the Landlord of Heaven itself. It is more secure than the safest bank vault on earth. The One who keeps it for us will never lose it, or forget those to whom it is promised.
The deed to this treasured hope is the gospel. It is the surest truth and the surest promise ever made. It is “THE word of truth,” bound by the very Word of God Himself.
His own words ring clearly and distinctly in the quiet moments of discouragement, disappointment, or stagnation:
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? -John 14:2, ESV
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.-John 6:37-39, ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. -John 10:27-29, ESV
When our progress seems slow or when the wind moving us along seems to wane, we need to remember that our earthly progress is not our proper focus.
The One who has promised our destination should be our focus. The One who has already laid up our certain hope should be our focus.
Nothing, not even the slow progress which may be the fault of our own folly or despair, will keep us from His will to bring us safely to the hope He has laid up for us, in His time.
Ours is to endure, and glorify Him by the hope we have, by His grace, in His sure promise.