as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4:18
Well, Christmas day has come and gone. I hope it was a day filled with joy and peace. As our children have gotten older, it seems like it has gotten more difficult to know what to buy them. We want them to feel the longing of expectation and the joy of hopes fulfilled, but we also don’t want to buy them a bunch of things that they don’t want or need. It is a delicate balance, isn’t it? Knowing how to weave their wants and needs into the perfect gift is challenging and, I would argue, impossible.
Despite our best efforts, we inevitably buy our children things that bring them momentary happiness, but all too soon wind up in the garage, ready to be donated to a local charity. The things they just knew they needed only satisfied for a little while. Over time we, and our children, realize that nothing we purchased could last forever. Even the best-built purchases break, fade, need updates, run out of memory or just die. They also realize over time that the things we bought them cannot comfort their hearts during an emotional break-up, strengthen their resolve to maintain physical purity when dating, harness their cognitive strength when taking a test, or bring peace to their souls when they wrestle with spiritual things. All in all, the stuff we buy our children tends to be, at least in the eternal sense, worthless. Truth be told, we didn’t buy anything for ourselves or each other that has any real staying power either. None of it is eternal.
So what should we do as believers? When we start to realize that everything we put our hope in will fail us, should we simply dream bigger dreams? Should we just buy more things? I would argue the answer to those questions is no. Dreaming bigger dreams is OK as a motivator, but dreams in and of themselves have no real power. Buying more things isn’t necessarily wrong, but it certainly isn’t wise if you are banking on those things to satisfy the hungriest parts of your soul. We have to place our hope in something else. We need to place our hope in the only one who has proven himself to be both eternal and powerful. We need to place our hope in God alone.
In 2023, you and I will have many options as to where we place our hope. I want to graciously yet boldly remind us all to avoid placing our hope in things that are temporal. Careers come and go. Relationships will be strained. Money is fickle. Kids grow up and move away. Academic pursuits only go so far. Arts can only express so much. Sports victories last for a season and then fade.
Let’s not place our hope in things that will rust and fade, but in the eternal one who is God the Father, Son, and Spirit. Let’s commit our energy to building into eternal things, like people’s souls. Let’s commit our money to investing in eternal things, like ministry that leads people to eternal life through Jesus. Let’s commit our hope to the only one who will ever fulfill it: our great God and King!