Today: Sunday, August 25, 2019
 
 

Hope Beyond Hope    (11/25/2018)

Very many of the troops - perhaps all of them - who returned home from the Great War one hundred years ago, must have had a longing and a hope for a better world.  They will have had hopes for their families, their work, their country, and for peace.  Very sadly, many of those hopes were shattered in the years that followed.

In some ways, that must have been almost as discouraging and depressing as some of their wartime experiences.  Because the opposite of hope is hopelessness.  Without hope, there’s not much left.

But hope needs a reason.  What reason do we have to hope?  Human nature doesn’t seem to change very much; bad things still happen to good people.  Dreams evaporate.  Hopes for family, career, love, can simply die.  Hope based on progress or things turning out all right can often be disappointed.

Hope is big in the Bible.  The first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, is about the promise that God is at work. Despite all our human failures, God has a future for us, summed up in some words in Jeremiah 29, verse 11 - “I have plans for you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

One of the writers of the Psalms describes the tough times he is going through.  He is an alien in a foreign country.  People taunt him about his faith which doesn’t seem to have got him very far.  He is sad, troubled and heart-broken.  He feels neglected and crushed.  But three times he declares his faith - “Nevertheless, I will put my hope in God, and once again praise him, my saviour and my God.” (Read Psalms 42 and 43.)

It’s appropriate that the Christian symbol for hope is an anchor.  Here is a man who anchors his trust in God.  It’s as though he reaches out into the future and trusts God for all that’s to come.

The second part of the Bible, the New Testament, is about that hope being made real and concrete in Jesus.  Summing up what that means, Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers writes, “God, in his great mercy, has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

Hope that is rooted in God and in the living Jesus is the key to a realistic and solid vision of the future.  Here is something, someone, to hold on to.  And people of faith, who have a hope anchored in Christ, can be people of hope, and can bring hope to what sometimes look like hopeless situations.

And that thought may help us as we move on from these troubled weeks of remembering the tragedies of war into the great season of Christmas - called Advent - when our sense of hope is lit up by Jesus, the child of Bethlehem.






Prayer:

Pray for those caught in what feel like hopeless situations, and make this prayer your own - “I find rest in God; only he gives me hope.” (Psalm 62: 5)

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