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Hope makes the difference in rising above pain
Church in the Bay - Media Release in the Herald: 10th January 2022
As we launch into a new year, we are challenged to hold onto hope for better things than what last year presented us with. Back to News Index
We did battle with Covid-19 and the ever-shifting implications on so many fronts.
Corruption mushroomed! Looting was sanctioned on a national level.
Politicians promised and lied and lied and lied.
We have struggled with both economic challenges and the severity of isolation impacting the necessity of connecting meaningfully with others.
We have seen human desperation reach pandemic levels.
There is a line in the movie Shawshank Redemption that goes like this: ‘In this life you are either busy living or busy dying. The difference is hope”.
While it is true that these three remain: faith hope and love, they are, in the words of theologian Raniero Cantalamessa “like three sisters. Two of them are grown and the other is a small child. They go forward together hand in hand with the child hope in the middle.
“Looking at them it would seem that the bigger ones are pulling the child, but it is the other way around. It is the little girl who is pulling the two bigger ones. It is hope that pulls faith and love. Without hope everything would stop.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “to live without hope is to cease to live”.
“What oxygen is to the lungs; such is hope to the meaning of life.” wrote Emil Brunner.
Hope lifts us out of the rubble of our failures, our pain and our fear to rise above what at one point seemed insurmountable. Our ability to endure, to persevere, to overcome, is fuelled by this one seemingly innocuous ingredient called hope.
Hope is to the soul what breathing is for the body.
But where is hope to be found?
In His promises (Scriptures).
The purpose of the Bible is to give us hope.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope”. (Romans 15:4)
As the Bible says, God is not a man that he should lie. His word endures.
He anchors our hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Christ was raised our faith has hope. We have this hope “as an anchor for the soul” (Heb 6:19).
“Hope does not disappoint us because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given unto us.” (Romans 5:5).
Faith and love spring from the hope that is stored up for us in heaven. (Col 1:5)
Though it be true as AJ Conyers says in The Eclipse of Heaven “we live in a world no longer under heaven” yet we find that God has set eternity in our hearts, a yearning for Him and His Purposes (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
C.S Lewis put it like this: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world”.
The great preacher Jonathan Edwards proclaimed: “This life ought to be spent by us only as a journey towards heaven”.
In His presence (Encounter).
The Lord has repeatedly declared that when we go through deep waters, he would be with us.
He assures us of his presence in the midst of trials and fiery tests. He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. David in the psalms understood the reliability of God’s presence even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Moses understood the power of God’s presence that was the promise of His guidance in the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day.
This awareness of God’s presence was the defining distinctive in Joseph’s bounce back ability in the road to prosperity. In Genesis 39 we find this repeated statement: ‘The Lord was with him, gave him success in everything he did’. God’s presence with Joseph birthed resilience and fuelled his hope.
John Wesley’s dying words were “the best of all is God is with us”.
In His people (Authentic Church).
Paul declares that it is Christ in us that is the “hope of glory” (Colossians 1: 27).
Bill Hybels has repeatedly said that the local church, when it is healthy, is the hope of the world.
So, what makes a church healthy?
What helps the church to be a carrier of hope?
The primary issue is that the church is called to be the servant of God’s Kingdom. This is the critical corrective for the health of the church. The King in the Kingdom of God is the Father and He calls for fatherly leadership in the church. This is a reference to the gift of leadership not the gender.
Healthy hope inspiring church would include at least 4 visionary images:
The church is a hospital where all manner of broken humanity is welcomed and compassionately attended to. Healing happens!
The church is a family where isolation is challenged, and authentic relationships are cultivated. Belonging is nurtured.
The church is a school where training for life and service is offered. Empowerment is focused.
The church is an army where purposeful hope inspiring endeavours are undertaken.
Courageous Change happens.
On this last point let me say that if what you’re living for is not worth dying for it’s not worth living for.
“Hope has a thick skin and will endure many a blow,” wrote John Bunyan (1628-1688).
“It will endure all things if it be of the right kind, for the joy that is set before it. It is hope that makes the soul exercise patience and long suffering under the cross until the time comes to enjoy the crown”.
Dr Dave Pedersen
National Director Vineyard Churches SA
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