Hope for This Life

Thomas Chisholm was not a formally educated man. But in 1941 he wrote in a letter, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness."*

You will not be surprised to learn that a man who writes such a letter is also the author the poem which, when set to music, became the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

With a long history of poor health and financial strain, Chisholm penned this lyric:

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

remarkable hope

Chisholm would have been the first to admit that the assurance of a glorious future reality does not automatically alleviate ongoing pain in this life. In a dying marriage, the glory of heaven doesn’t numb the sadness. To the parent sitting in the waiting room of Pediatric Oncology, that bright future is barely visible. To the Christian battered by a series of small disasters, eternity with Jesus is a long way off, and the way forward is strewn with more trouble.

Jesus was also familiar with long-term sadness. The prophet Isaiah writes of Jesus, “He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” At the pinnacle of his obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane,  Jesus was engulfed in agony, and his Father sent an angel to strengthen him.

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. The stories of people who saw Jesus and the stories from our own lives are proof. Simeon--a righteous and devout man waited decades to see Jesus. Mary and Martha endured the agonizing decline of their brother, Lazarus. As Mary the mother of Jesus witnessed the murder of her blameless son, her soul was pierced. God’s chosen people are not spared the battering waves of uncertainty and trouble.

But in our despair and distress, God will supply all we need to hold fast to him. We  observe it repeatedly throughout the gospels.

Simeon heard a promise. “You will see the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26).

Martha of Bethany received a next-step instruction. “Believe, and you will see the glory of God” (John 11:40).

Mary the mother of Jesus was reminded of her all-powerful God and his provision. “Dear woman, here is a son who will care for you after I’m gone” (John 19:26-27).

God revived their hope in ways they never could have imagined. Each word of warning, confirmation, and instruction was a means to solidify their hope of his promised future.

He will do the same for us. Our hope is a confident expectation—"an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

For those who’ve placed their hope in Christ, discouragement and confusion are not indicators that the mooring has come loose. Regardless of how we feel, or how well we understand our circumstances, we are bound to a fixed hope.

Christ Jesus is our remarkable hope. As we read of his past faithfulness to the people he encountered face-to-face, and fellow believers like Thomas Chisholm, our faith is strengthened and our assurance grows. We can know with confidence that he may shock and surprise us, but he does not ultimately disappoint. In the circumstances of today and in the grand scope of eternity, God’s faithfulness great indeed.

*Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications 1982),  p. 84.

{Excerpt adapted from Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People, by Shauna Letellier. © 2019 FaithWords, Nashville}


Shauna Letellier is the author of Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People. Drawing upon her degree in Biblical Studies, she weaves strands of history, theology, and fictional detail into a fresh retelling of familiar Bible stories in her books and on her blog. With her husband Kurt, she has the wild and hilarious privilege of raising three boys along the banks of the Missouri River where they fish, swim, and rush off to ball games.