Why You Can Be “Hopeful”
All of us need at least one “Hopeful” friend in our lives. More importantly, all of us need to become “Hopeful” for someone else. Here’s what I mean.
In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress we meet a fellow named Hopeful. Christian, the main character and hero of this epic allegory, loses his first traveling companion, Faithful, to martyrdom part way through his journey (a rather soul-wrenching moment). However, he soon finds himself joined by Hopeful, who provides a constant commentary of encouragements for the remainder of Christian’s adventures.
By his witness to him, Hopeful helps Christian defeat Giant Despair, survive a dungeon, discover the Key of Promise, and fight off corrupting creatures like Ignorance, Little-Faith and Flatterer. It is Hopeful who keeps the ultimate vision of The End alive for Christian. It is Hopeful who points him to the Shining One and his Celestial City. It is Hopeful who proclaims such a hope-filled message for Christian that the pilgrim is able to progress (as Bunyan puts it) “from this world to that which is to come.” Hopeful’s mission is a thorough success.
All of us need at least one friend like Hopeful in our lives! More importantly, all of us need to become a Hopeful for someone else. Our churches need to be flooded with a host of Hopefuls!
But how can we be certain we’ve successfully accomplished, like Christian’s companion, our calling to be “Hopefuls”—I like to call them Messengers of Hope—for other believers? Is it simply enough to ask, “Was my message relevant to someone?” Or, “Were my words practical and useful for this person?” Or even, “Was what I said encouraging?”
Bunyan’s Hopeful had far more in mind than these goals as he ministered to pilgrim Christian. Similarly, our primary evaluation must ask:
Did my hearers (or my friend) encounter
a larger vision of Christ and his supremacy,
and were they gripped by stronger reasons
to put their hope more fully in him,
than they had before we came together?
In other words — whatever the text, the context, or the pretext; whatever the audience’s makeup, size or agenda; whatever a meeting’s immediate topic, issue, cause, or concern may be; whatever my friend’s trials or needs may be—I must be confident that:
To the best of my ability,
I have helped my hearers to leave my presence
with a deeper understanding of the glory of Christ
and a fuller hope shaped by the supremacy of Christ.
Do you recall the last time you raised spiritual issues with some of God’s people? Maybe it was during a luncheon Bible study at the office, or in a conversation with a friend between church services, or during deliberations at the last missions committee meeting. Maybe it was last night at family devotions, or while visiting a friend in the hospital, or when you recently consoled a grieving widow. Whatever the situation, did your effort focus primarily on Christ? Did it lead to greater hope in him?
Two Questions to Ask Yourself
1) The last time I shared God’s Word from my heart with other believers, did I unfold for them a larger vision of Christ and his supremacy than what they had before we met?
2) At the same time, did I lay out for them more compelling reasons to put their hope in Christ, and to do so with greater confidence, than what they had before we met?
For a Messenger of Hope, saying yes to such questions is the sign of success, as God measures success. We have succeeded any time people can say, “Through what you shared with me you opened up for me a larger vision of Christ’s grace and glory than I had ever seen before! Now my hope in him and my passion for him are stronger than ever.”
Let’s learn to be Messengers of Hope to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we meet in our journey—just as Hopeful was to Christian.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bryant
Known as a proclaimer of Christ and Messenger of Hope, David Bryant is the founder and president of Proclaim Hope!, a ministry whose goal is to serve a nationwide Christ Awakening. David is the author of five books, including Christ Is ALL! A Joyful Manifesto on the Supremacy of God’s Son.