Lately I keep catching myself looking at my watch. Not because I need to, but just because I want to know how soon I will get to move on to the next activity in the daily agenda. When I’m in class I think about what I will do for lunch, when I’m at lunch I think about what I will study after lunch, and when I’m studying I think about what I will do when I have time for a break. Living like this does not make sense. The laws of nature will never allow me to live in the future; I will always be living in the present. It is foolish to be preoccupied with planning what I am going to do at the cost of appreciating what I am doing. If I cannot live fully in the present, how can I expect to appreciate the future?
Yet despite the way my “watch-looking” type of preoccupation with the future prevents me from living fully in the present, Christians believe they should live in hope for the future. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that Christians “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” Yet Paul’s hope does not seem to have prevented him from living in the present. On the contrary, he “worked day and night” and asked Christians to “be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” Rather than making him distant from the present, Paul’s hope seems to have made him more willing to pour his effort into the present and be grateful for the good of what was happening in the present moment. So, what then is hope?
Hoping is living in confident expectation of God’s plans being fulfilled. We learn to hope in these plans by learning God’s character and what he has already done for us. Jesus’s death and resurrection show us how much God loves us and wants to take care of us. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God is able to make us into the wholesome, beautiful people he wants us to be. Through Jesus, we get to become part of God’s family, with God as our father and Jesus as our dear older brother. Our Father tells us he is taking care of everything, and because we know how good and full of love he is, we know we can trust him and are excited to see how his love transforms us and our world. We look forward to when the hurt will be healed, the tears will be wiped away, and God’s love will fill every nook and cranny.
This hope both spurs us to action and gives us patience. We are excited to see God’s plans accomplished, so we live in a way that shows this excitement. Our trust that God knows what he is doing and that his plans will be accomplished gives us patience to wait for his timing. In the present, we have the privilege of watching God work to create the future. He wants us to be part of his work, so we gladly pour our effort into working for him. The daily tasks become special to us because they are opportunities to live for God and with God. Our entire way of living is transformed by our excitement for the future God has planned. So, wanting to look at my watch is going to be my reminder to live fully in the present by putting my hope in God. Instead of passively waiting through my classes, I am going to actively wait for God to fulfil his plans. Because of my hope for the future, I am going to live fully in the present.
 Romans 8:23-24a
 2 Thessalonians 3:8
 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a
Photo courtesy of Winston Kim.