Chapter 5 – Lessons That Build Hope

Many counselees come in for counseling with little to no hope and “trying” biblical counseling is often their “last resort.” The counselor’s introduction to God’s power and plan for change will often spark hope but as the counselee embarks upon the transformation process, she can often begin to feel overwhelmed by failures along the way in spite of her efforts and hopelessness can return. For this reason, the counselor must know how to instill hope in his counselee. This chapter will explain what biblical hope is and will present ideas and lessons that can be used for building hope.

What is Hope?

In the English language we use the word hope often: “I hope the sun is shining for our picnic.” I hope the chemotherapy wipes out the cancer.”  “I hope my marriage does not end in divorce.” “I hope I do not lose my job.”  In his Epistle, Peter instructs, “ … always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…[emphasis added]” (1 Pet. 3:15b; NIV). What is this hope that Peter is talking about? One would hope that the biblical hope to which Peter is referring is more than wishful, hope-so thinking, because if it is not, then biblical counselors have nothing to offer to those who are drowning in a sea of hopelessness.

In the 1 Peter passage above, the Greek noun elpis (ἐλπίς)[1] is translated hope. In the noun form the meaning is “a joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.”[2] In Acts “the concept of hope … refers to the hope of Israel as culminating in the resurrection of Christ (2:26, 23:6, 24:15, 26:6, 7, 28:20).”[3]

In his letter to the Ephesians Paul reminds the saints that they were once without hope because they were without Christ (Eph. 2:11-12). Faith in Christ is the difference between a secular “hope-so” and a confident expectation for the future. The biblical hope that is found only in Christ means “something certain, that just hasn’t happened yet.”[4]

The Christian’s future is very bright when anchored to God through obedience (Matt. 7:24-27) made possible by the cross of Christ, so there is every reason for hope-filled living as the disciple of Christ grows in sanctification. This bright future includes both life on earth—even in the midst of trials—and in the life to come.

On the pages that follow, lessons based on various hope-filled Scripture passages are provided for use in counseling sessions to help build hope for counselees who are struggling. Suggested homework assignments are provided with each lesson.

Lesson A: God has a plan and a purpose for every trial
Read Aloud: Romans 8:28-29
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Write in your praise journal every day this week something good that has flowed from your adversity. Write a prayer thanking God for it.

2) Complete the “God’s Sovereignty” Bible study (provided in chapter 7)

3) Memorize Romans 8:28-29

4) Read Romans chapter 8 every day this week. Make a list of hope-filled verses, in your counseling notebook, by recording one verse that stands out as hopeful from the chapter each day. Review these verses daily.

Explain: As a result of the sin nature, when trouble strikes, a person’s natural response is to be consumed with how this affects me – now. The typical response is to blame the pain on the circumstances or the people involved. It is easy to believe that the hope lies in changed circumstances. “Everything would be okay if…” However, there is no hope in this way of thinking since there is no certainty that circumstances will change.

Figure 5.1. Lesson A: God has a plan and a purpose for every trial

Figure 5.1 continued

Instead, the Christian’s hope lies in the fact that God has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens. Just because we do not see “the big picture” does not mean that God does not. Everything that happens in the life of a Christian, whether we view it as good or bad, God views as good because it is under His control and is intended to accomplish His purpose: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). And what is God’s purpose? We see the answer in the following verse: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” In other words, God is at work conforming Christ’s followers to be like Christ. He is preparing Christ’s bride for the wedding (Rev 19:7-9). Christ-likeness is what brings God glory and Christ-likeness is what is good for us.


Sometimes the process of God transforming us into Christ-likeness requires our pain or suffering. We may blame consequences on our own choices resulting in regret or on those of another person resulting in broken relationships. Some people blame Satan or even God for the things that are out of human control. But there is no hope or growth in blame. Instead, we can view our suffering as being sent from a loving Father who knows what is best. Nothing ever happens without His consent:


Regardless of the cause, none of your problems could happen without God’s permission. Everything that happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and he intends to use it for good even when Satan and others mean it for bad.[5]


Because everything that happens is in accordance with God’s sovereign plan, a Christian can find hope in the face of adversity. There is no wasted suffering from God’s perspective. There is purpose and meaning in every trial.


So we come to the question “How could my trials and suffering ever be for my good and God’s glory?” Here are some examples of good things that may flow from adversity: [6]

  • Trials are an opportunity for growth in Christian faith and maturity
  • Walking in faith through the trial is a witness to the unsaved world
  • An opportunity is created for the church to minister to you
  • The trial can bring you closer to God and to others, especially your family
  • It can be an occasion for a change in lifestyle; it can break logjams
  • By asking God’s Spirit to enable you to understand and for the power to do God’s will, your understanding of life will deepen and enhance your growth in Christian behavior
  • “The testing of your faith works endurance” (James 1:3) and since endurance is needed in order to succeed in every endeavor, this can be a rich benefit of your trials
  • Your ministry to others can be promoted

Lesson B: God has given power to Christ’s followers
Read Aloud: 2 Peter 1:3-4
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Write 2 Peter 1:3-4 on one side of a 3×5 card. On the back side of the card, paraphrase that passage into a prayer and pray it daily to God each time you read the verse.

2) Make a list of the areas where you fail most frequently in your journey toward change

3) Complete a thought journal (provided in chapter 7) over the course of a week or two in order to help determine the patterns that make provision for the flesh. From the data gathered in the thought journal make a plan for steps to take in order to prevent the failures that are most common.

4) What does God promise in this passage? Pray daily for God to help you believe and to rest in this promise.

Explain: As a counselee struggles through the sanctification process, it is important to remind her that she is not left to her own devices to change. The Holy Spirit is at work transforming the heart of the believer as she welcomes Him and works in cooperation with Him.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul gives hope and encouragement to the struggles that accompany the sanctification process within the believer. He adamantly pronounces that the power of the flesh has been fatally wounded and that by yielding control of our lives to the Holy Spirit we will be able to “fulfill the law” (Gal 5:14). Paul makes it clear that God reveals His will for His people through the law. The New Bible Commentary states it well:

The reason we may be encouraged in our spiritual life is that when we placed our faith in Christ we gave a fatal blow to the power of the flesh (Rom. 6:1–4). So, if our life proceeds from the Spirit, it is only appropriate—indeed, it is incumbent upon us—to conduct ourselves according to his lead…[7]

Just before Christ left this earth to return to His glory in heaven, He left us with the promise of the coming of His Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you … ” (Acts 1:8). In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them, and us, that without God’s power, they, and we, are inadequate to accomplish anything that would please the Lord, but because of Christ, we have been made “sufficient as ministers of the new covenant … ” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).

If we are in Christ, then, we can be confident that we possess the power to change, to obey God, to serve Him and to enjoy the abundant life that results.

Figure 5.2. Lesson B: God has given power to Christ’s followers

Lesson C: God has blessed us with His presence
Read: Psalm 139:7-10
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Read Psalm 139 every day this week. Each day, record one thing in your notebook that God reveals in the Psalm about His presence in your life.

2) Memorize Isaiah 41:10. Recite it to yourself each time you feel that God is absent or when you feel fearful or lonely. Make a conscious decision to believe what God has promised rather than relying on your feelings.

3) Read the booklet How to Handle Trouble by Jay Adams. Highlight five statements that give you hope. Write one of the statements on a 3×5 card and read it three times daily.

Explain: The Psalmist gave hope as he reminded us of the intimate involvement God has with us – everywhere; all the time. God has given multiple promises in Scripture never to leave us. For example, an Old Testament promise that has instilled Christian hope for centuries reads, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God…” (Isa 41:10). Just before Jesus left this earth to ascend to His home in heaven He declared “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20b). The Hebrew writer reminds us of God’s promise from Deuteronomy: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5; Deut 31:6-8).

It is important to understand that God is not simply with us watching or even just holding our hand to comfort us. He is actually orchestrating the events of our lives to bring about good (Rom 8:28, Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). Let us look at how Joseph viewed his circumstances. His brothers betrayed him, seeking to kill him but ultimately selling him as a slave. He wound up in Egypt, falsely accused and imprisoned. Joseph later declared to his brothers “it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:8). Joseph was convinced that God was with Him and had been orchestrating all the events of his life.

When we are in the midst of the most frightening storm of life, we have the assurance that God is right there in the middle of it with us. In fact, it is important to remember that we are right where He wants us for that time. To be able to say “Christ wants me in this trouble” with the “warmth of true faith”[8] is a necessary step toward finding true biblical hope in God’s promises. The suffering that we face is “a sign of God’s activity” in our lives.”[9] It is proof that He loves us and that He is with us.

Figure 5.3. Lesson C: God has blessed us with His presence

Lesson D: God hears us when we pray
Read Aloud: Luke 11:9-10
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Look up “Pray” and “Prayer” in a Bible concordance. Locate and read at least ten of the passages listed. Record the references in your counseling notebook, noting what each passage reveals about prayer.

2) Read Ephesians 3:12 and answer the following question in your counseling notebook, “What is the ‘confident access’ to which Paul refers?”

3) Read Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and then write your own prayer according to His example. Pray your prayer daily.

4) Personalize Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19 by writing it on 3×5 cards, leaving blanks for the names of loves ones for whom you want to pray. Pray this prayer daily for yourself and your loved ones.

Explain: Because we know that God is with us (Heb 4:13:5), we can find hope in the assurance that He hears us when we pray. It is quite clear in Scripture that prayer can affect what God does or does not do. When Jesus says “Ask, and it will be given you…For everyone who asks receives,” (Lk 11:9-10) He is making a “clear connection between seeking things from God and receiving them.”[10]  James “implies that failure to ask deprives us of what God would otherwise have given to us”[11] (Jas 4:2).

We learn from Scripture that prayer helps increase our faith as we learn to trust in and depend on our Heavenly Father. When we pray, we are not informing God of something He does not already know. “…Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). But rather, when we bring our requests before Him, we are demonstrating our trust in Him and our dependence on Him. The more time we spend with our Heavenly Father in prayer and Bible reading, the more we know Him and the more we know Him, the more we trust Him. Hope will increase as we grow in faith and in humble dependence on our heavenly Father.

Figure 5.4. Lesson D: God hears us when we pray

Lesson E: What is Beyond the Present Trial?
Read Aloud: Hebrews 12:1-2
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Read Hebrews chapter 12 every day this week. Read it in two or three different Bible translations or versions. Make a list of hope-filled verses found in the chapter, by recording in your counseling notebook, one verse that stands out as hopeful from the chapter each day. Review these verses daily.

2) Make a list of those activities in your life that you do not like to do, but you do them anyway because you know there is a future reward (i.e. getting out of bed each morning to go to work for the paycheck that provides for your household). Pray and ask God to help you view your trial(s) in a way that has an eternal focus.

3) Memorize Philippians 4:8 and each day practice maintaining your thought life according to that verse.

4) Maintain a “Thought Journal” (provided in Chapter 7) in order to monitor your thoughts.

5) Read Revelation chapters 21 and 22 and make a list of all that God has in store for Christ’s followers.

Explain: There are some things in life that are difficult but we are able to face them because of the reward we know that is ahead. For example, a pregnant woman knows she must endure the pain of childbirth before she can cradle her infant in her arms. A business executive knows that he must complete all tasks on his desk before he can depart on his Caribbean cruise. Christ knew that He must suffer crucifixion before He would “sit down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2b). Likewise, the Christian must face the challenges of a fallen world before enjoying eternity with Christ and saved loved ones forever.

Jesus is our example for how to find joy in the midst of suffering. The Hebrew writer does not say that Jesus found joy in enduring the cross. No, we learn that He “endured the cross, despising the shame [emphasis added].” The joy that was set before Him was that of bringing glory to His Father and of His reunion with His Heavenly Father for eternity and that is the same joy that is set before the follower of Christ. By setting aside a focus on the things that weigh us down and instead “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus,” the Christian can find hope and joy even in miserable times. The “key” is to focus on Christ and His eternal promises.

It is important, however, to remember that we do not have to wait until our next life for God’s blessings. He promises to use our trials for good right here in this life. That means that our trials can result in healed relationships, stronger faith and character, a better job, a more effective ministry or a powerful testimony, just to name a few. We cannot know what God has in store. But if we trust and obey Him in the here and now, we can look forward to His blessings beyond our trial – in eternity and also while we remain on earth.

Figure 5.5. Lesson E: What is beyond the present trial?

Lesson F: Hope rests on God’s character
Read Aloud: Any of the passages listed in parenthesis below.
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Complete the “God’s Attributes” study (provided in Chapter 7)

2) Read one Psalm per day. Make a list of God’s attributes that you find in the Psalms and answer the question for each one, “How does (or should) knowing this about God impact my life?”

3) Pray daily for God to help you to know Him, love Him and trust Him more.

Explain: The very basis on which biblical hope is built is the character of God. God is sovereign; He is in control of all things (1 Tim 6:15-16). “Nothing under His control can ever be out of control.”[12] But in addition to being sovereign, God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16, 18; Jer 31:3; Jn 3:16). God is merciful, gracious, patient, and abounding in goodness and truth (Ex 34:6, Ps 86:5, 13). He is Savior (Isa 43:11), Protector (Ps 91), Creator (Gen 1:1, 26-27; Rom 5:3-5, Col 1:16), Redeemer (Isa 43:1), Provider (Gen 22:14; Ps 21:2; Matt 6:25-34), Helper (Heb 13:6; Ps 27:1; Isa 41:10), Sustainer (Ps 41:3; Heb 1:3; Col 1:17), Comforter (Jer 31:13; Ps 86:17; 2 Cor 1:3-5), Healer (Ps 41:3, 103:1-3, 147:3; Jer 3:22, 17:14; Lk 17-19; 1 Pet 3:24), Friend (Jer 31:13; Jn 15:15; Matt 11:19). He is wise (Ps 19:7), forgiving (Isa 43:25, 44:22), faithful (2 Thess 3:3; Rev 3:14), trustworthy (Ps 93:5) and just (Isa 30:18; Ps 146:7). He is holy (Ex 15:11; 1 Pet 1:15-16; Isa 6:3). He is the One and only true God; there is none like Him (Isa 45:5-6). He is present with us (Isa 41:10, 43:5; Heb 13:5; Ps 139:7-10; Jn 14:17). He knows everything. He sees everything (Gen 16:13; Ps 139:15-16). And there is nothing too hard for Him (Jer 32:17, 27). God reveals Himself through His Word. The more a person pores over the Scriptures, the more they know God and the more they know Him, the more they trust Him; the more they trust Him, the more hope they find in the midst of their trials.

When a small child needs food and shelter, her hope is a confident expectation of provision if she has a loving, nurturing and hard-working parent. But for the child whose parents are caught up in selfish living, that child’s hope for food and shelter may consist only of wishful thinking. As Christians, we have a loving, nurturing Father who is fully capable and desiring to provide loving care to His children, so for those who are children of God through Christ, our hope is a confident expectation that our loving Father has our best interests in mind and will provide exactly what He deems best for us. Our hope, our confident expectation of provision and refuge, rests on God’s character.

Figure 5.6. Lesson F: Hope rests on God’s character

Lesson G: God promises to see us through
Read Aloud: 1 Corinthians 10:13
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Write a paraphrase of this verse and personalize it with circumstances from your life.

2) Write a paragraph on how God has proven Himself faithful to you through past trials.

3) Make a list of good things that could potentially result from your current trial.

4) What is the current trial exposing in your sinful heart? In what ways are you tempted to sin as you face your current trial? Write a prayer asking God to help you to face your trial in a way that brings honor to Him. Pray this prayer daily.

Explain: This promise is written to believers only, since it is from a letter written from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth. The word “temptation” is a 2-sided coin: “trial” on the one and “temptation” on the other since every trial becomes an opportunity for temptation to sin. There is nothing that we could possibly face that would be new, but each trial is “common to man;” others have gone before.

God is faithful. It is not possible for Him to do anything that is against His own nature and His nature is faithful. He will never let me down. He will always be there for me. He will always keep His word. He cannot lie. He cannot change since that would be contrary to His very nature. Because His love is always perfect, He will never love me any more or any less than He does right now. He will listen to me. He will act on my behalf. He will empower me, remind me, lead me, teach me, comfort me and stay with me. He will never be any more or any less powerful than He is right now. He can do anything! I can count on Him!

God knows exactly how He created each one of us. He knows our strengths, our weaknesses and our limits. He knows what we have been through – good and bad – and He knows what the future holds for us. He knows exactly what He is preparing us for. He knows what He wants to accomplish in us and He knows the kind of pressure needed to complete the process. He knows the resources that He has provided for us – His Spirit, His Word, His people and the privilege of prayer as well as former experiences & preparations for this trial. It is in this context that He promises never to allow us to be tempted or tried beyond what we are able.

He will always provide a way for us to endure the trial in a way that honors Him. Even though we may feel like sinning, we don’t have to. It is a choice we make. He has given us all we need to make the right choice. He is not promising a way of escape from the trial; He faithfully provides the way to escape the temptation to sin in the midst of the trial.

As we endure the trial in a way that brings glory to God, it will also bring good to us since God’s glory and the Christian’s good are interconnected and cannot be separated for He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:1-5). We are connected forever.

Figure 5.7. Lesson G: God promises to see us through

Lessons in Hope from an Eternal Perspective

In addition to the hope we have in God to see us through this life with purpose, contentment and even joy in the midst of trials, Christians have the glorious blessing of eagerly looking forward to the eternal promises which God has revealed in His Word for His people. We will consider seven:[13]

  • The return of Christ
  • The resurrection of the body
  • Reuniting with loved ones who have died
  • Eternal fellowship with Christians
  • Appearing before God as sinless
  • Dwelling with God and knowing Him
  • We will reign with Christ and receive our inheritance
Lesson H: The return of Christ
Read Aloud: John 14:3
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Read Titus 2:11-14. What is the “blessed hope” of which Paul is speaking? Record your answer in your counseling notebook.

2) Read chapters 19-22 of Revelation, 1 chapter per day. Make a list in your counseling notebook of what the Christian has to look forward to in eternity.

3) Read Acts 1:9-11 and 1 Thess 4:16-18 and draw a picture of what it may look like when Christ returns.

Explain: In Paul’s letter to Titus, he speaks of “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). This hope of Christ’s return is not based on some idea that Paul came up with in order to write comforting words to Titus, but is based on the very words of Jesus when He promised His followers: “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn 14:3). Because Christ is loving, patient, kind and powerful and He knows each of us intimately, we can look forward to seeing Him face to face. In fact, we can look forward to being just like Him (1 Jn 3:1-3).

Figure 5.8. Lesson H: The return of Christ

Lesson I: The resurrection of the body
Read Aloud: Philippians 3:20-21
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Complete a “Thought Journal” (provided in chapter 7), regarding your physical condition, by adding 3 entries each day this week. What “earth-bound” thoughts continue to be repeated? How might you change your “earthly” thoughts into thoughts about your promised resurrection body?  Make a plan to take steps to replace your “earthly” thoughts with an eternal perspective.

2) Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-53. What hope does this passage give concerning your physical condition?

3) Memorize Philippians 3:20-21. Meditate on these verses every time you feel self pity, discouragement or weariness over your physical difficulties. To “meditate” on Scripture means to mull over and over in your mind ways that you might apply the passage to your day-to-day circumstances.

Explain: Jesus promised that when He returns, He will transform our lowly bodies and conform them to His glorious body. This new glorious body will never again be subject to sickness, weakness or death. When one is suffering physically from pain and/or physical disability, an eternal perspective will provide hope to endure the daily pain and hardship.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2; NLT).

Figure 5.9. Lesson I: The resurrection of the body

Lesson J: Reuniting with loved ones who have died
Read Aloud: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Write an answer to the question, “How is my life better (or how should it be) because of God’s plan as revealed in 1 Thess. 4:13-18?”

2) Write 1 Thess. 4:13-18 on 3×5 cards. Memorize and meditate on the passage whenever you feel grief about the passing of your loved one.

3) Write a prayer thanking God for His promise in 1 Thess. 4:13-18. Pray the prayer every day this week.

Explain: Christians have the hope of seeing their Christian loved ones again after death. This is not the same as saying “I hope I see them again.” It is a confident expectation; an assurance because it is based on God’s promise. Being separated by death is only a temporary separation. It might be compared to a loved one moving to another state or country for a season. Reunion is guaranteed. Paul tells the Thessalonians to encourage each other with this truth. What comfort and hope a counselee can receive at the death of a Christian loved one, knowing that he will see his loved one again.

Figure 5.10. Lesson J: Reuniting with loved ones who have died

Lesson K: Eternal fellowship with Christians
Read Aloud: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Answer the following questions in your counseling notebook: a) How should knowing that Christians will be together for eternity impact your relationships on earth? b) How did it impact Paul in 2 Thess. 2:17-20? c) Make a list of ways you will make personal changes in regards to your relationships based on this passage.

2) Look up the word “invest” in a dictionary. Make a list of practical ways you can “invest” in relationships.

3) In 1 Thess. 2:19, Paul speaks of a “crown of boasting.” John MacArthur explains, “The Bible speaks of eternal life like a wreath awarded for an athletic victory.”[14] Look up the following passages and make a list of descriptions of the various references to wreaths or crowns: 1 Cor 9:25, 2 Tim 4:8, 1 Pet 5:4, Jas 1:12, Rev 2:10. How should knowing that God has an eternal reward in store for Christ’s followers impact how you live today?

Explain: The fellowship Christians enjoy with one another is an “investment” we can make into eternal fellowship. Just as Paul was grieving the failed opportunities to reunite with his friends, he found hope in the fact that they would be together for eternity. All Christians can share that hope.

In 1983, Michael W. Smith recorded a song that he and his wife “whipped up in an afternoon.” It became popular among Christians and is still sung today. Its lyrics remind us of the eternal nature of Christian relationships:

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
I can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through.

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say “never”
Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends. [15]

A counselee might be directed to listen to the lyrics online at the following link:

Figure 5.11. Lesson K: Eternal fellowship with Christians

Lesson L: Appearing before God as sinless
Read Aloud: 2 Corinthians 5:21
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Make a list of sins that you have committed. Now read the New Covenant as found in Ezekiel 36:25-27. This Covenant was prophesied in the Old Testament. Later, Christ was the fulfillment of the prophesy. What does God promise to do for you because of Christ’s fulfillment—His death on the cross in payment for your sins?

2) Read Romans 8:3 and Galatians 3:13 and answer the following questions in your counseling notebook: a) How do these verses compare to 2 Cor 5:21? b) How does or should this impact how you view sin? c) List one thing you plan to change as the result of these truths.

3) Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:21. Write the verse into a prayer of thanks. Daily pray it back to God as you thank Him for what Christ did in your place.

Explain: It is because of Christ’s sinless life and His work on the cross that we, who have been saved, will one day stand before God as perfect and holy. We know we sin and are unworthy of the eternal glory that God offers. But our hope for appearing as spotless before our Maker lies not in our merit but in the fact that Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us (placed in our account) and the debt of our sin was paid in full on the cross (Rom 4). Christians do not have reason to fear judgment by a holy God.

Figure 5.12. Lesson L: Appearing before God as sinless

Lesson M: Dwelling with God and knowing Him
Read Aloud: 1 John 3:1-3
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Write a personalized paraphrase of 1 Jn 3:1-3.

2) Name a human that you like to spend time with. Why do you like spending time with that person? Now describe what eternity with Christ has to offer that spending time with that person does not offer. Write your thoughts in your counseling notebook.

3) Read Revelation chapters 21 and 22. In these chapters, God reveals a “taste” of what eternity with Christ will be like. In your counseling notebook, make a list of all that is revealed in these two chapters.

Explain: As Christians we can find hope in knowing that there is no end to the amount of time we can spend with the One who loves us and gave His life for us. Because residing together with Christ was God’s plan for us from the foundations of the world, we have the hope of eternal friendship with our Creator. Because God is transcendent, we can never fully know Him yet we will have eternity to grow in our knowledge of Him.


In addition, Christians have a heavenly home awaiting them. This truth ought to overshadow even the kind of eager anticipation that an upcoming Caribbean cruise might inspire. The hope that a Christian has in his heavenly destination is more sure than that cruise; it will be more satisfying and it will be eternal. These truths can bring pure hope-filled joy as the Christian waits with eager expectation for that day of reunited bliss (Jn 17:3, Rev 22:3).

Figure 5.13. Lesson M: Dwelling with God and knowing Him

Lesson N: We will reign with Christ and receive our inheritance
Read Aloud: 1 Peter 1:3-4
Suggested Homework Assignments:

1) Read one chapter in First Peter every day this week. After completing chapter 5, start over with chapter 1. Answer the following question in your counseling notebook, “How will you choose to occupy your time while you wait for the coming day of Christ’s return?” List steps you will take to begin to carry out this plan.

2) Read 1 Pet 3:3-12 and make a list describing “the living hope” of which Peter speaks.

3) What do you know about the Christian’s “inheritance” from 1 Pet 1:4? Next, read 1 Pet 5:4, 2 Tim 4:7-8, Rev 21:7 and Col 1:5 and describe what else you learn about the Christian’s “inheritance.”

Explain: Jesus promises that we will, not only, dwell with Him, but we will reign with Him on His throne (Rev 3:21, 22:5; Eph 2:6). This ought to bring hope to the Christian in the midst of the injustices of this world. In addition to reigning as royalty, Peter tells us that “an inheritance” awaits us; an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” He tells us it is “kept in heaven for you”  (1 Pet 3:4 ESV).We cannot even begin to fathom what all that means. “It would be like trying to describe the Internet to an ant.”[16] Who does not love a wonderful surprise? It is this great surprise in which we can find hope as we wait with bated breath for that coming day. And while we wait, let us faithfully strive to love God and others, reflecting the image of God.

Figure 5.14. Lesson N: We will reign with Christ and receive our inheritance


Additional Biblical Truths that Give Hope

Lessons similar to those above can be developed from the following Scriptures:

  • God promises to complete in us what He has begun: Philippians 1:6
  • God is the one who does the work in our hearts, changing our will to conform to His: Philippians 2:13
  • We are not dependent on our own strength; God’s strength is perfected in us despite our weaknesses: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  • Suffering is just for a little while; Rejoicing is for eternity: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • Trials are an opportunity for growth: James 1:2-4
  • God’s discipline is a demonstration of His love for us: Hebrews 12:11-13
  • Suffering is good for us: Psalm 119:71
  • Sadness has a refining influence on us: Ecclesiastes 7:3
  • Problems are opportunities to learn to endure, which develops strength of character: Romans 5:3-5
  • Our faith is tested when we go through trials just as gold is refined by fire; Faith is far more precious to God than gold: 1 Peter 1:3-7
  • God’s love is unfailing; His mercy is new each day: Lamentations 3:22-24
  • God promises to direct our paths: Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Our battles are God’s battles: 2 Chronicles 32:7-8
  • God is our refuge: Psalm 91:1-4
  • Jesus will take our burdens and trade them for an easy load: Matthew 11:28-30
  • As our High Priest (the One who represents us before the Father), Jesus understands and sympathizes with our weaknesses because He has experienced all the same pain and temptations that we face and He is the perfect example to show us how to get through it without sinning; We can therefore boldly approach God’s throne in prayer knowing that we will receive mercy and grace as we need it: Hebrews 4:15-16
  • The peace God gives is not the kind of peace that the world knows but is an inner contentment that cannot be understood by the world: John 14:27
  • Jesus calls Himself our “friend” if we are saved: John 15:15
  • Jesus did all the work necessary to save us: Titus 3:4-7
  • God’s love for us is “steadfast”; It will not change when we sin; God’s character is love and our sin cannot change God’s character: Exodus 34:6
  • God gives us the strength through Christ to do all He calls us to do: Philippians 4:13

Another means through which to build hope is sacred music. Assigning the reading of hymn lyrics or the listening to a particular praise song can be renewing to the soul. An assignment might look something like this: “Read or sing the lyrics of this song every morning this week” or “I will email this link to you. Go to the link and listen with your eyes closed every day this week.” Figure 5.15 contains links to four such examples:

1) Why Should He Love Me So?

2) The Lord’s Prayer

3) Need You Now

4) How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

Figure 5.15. Use online links to help your counselee find hope through sacred music.

[1] Strong, (G1680).

[2] Ibid.

[3] P. J. Achtemeier, Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible dictionary,  (1st ed.) (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 403.

[4] Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), 179.

[5] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 194.

[6] Jay E. Adams, How to Handle Trouble (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1982), 37-39.

[7] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Rev. ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970 (4th ed.). Leicester, England; (Downers Grove, IL, USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).

[8] Jay Adams, How to Handle Trouble, 17.

[9] Ibid., 26.

[10] Grudem, 377.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Warren, 83.

[13] W. Evans, and S. M. Coder, The Great Doctrines of the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998, c1974), 298. Electronic edition.

[14] John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 1 Thess 3:19.

[15] Songfacts, “Lyrics: ‘Friends’ by Michael W. Smith,” Songfacts, accessed March 11, 2015,

[16] Warren, 38.