Hope against all hope in the midst of change

It has been a year of unprecedented change for our family, some if it chosen, some of it not – and it’s not over yet.

Change, whether initiated or imposed, is often challenging – especially when it affects the deep things of your heart and your future.

In the midst of some difficult moments this month, I had a speaking engagement where my theme was to be hope. Having been planned long before, it almost seemed laughable that I would contemplate hope when I was more prone to panic.

Of course, God has a sense of humour and that is good reason to be hopeful – it helps not to take yourself too seriously.

There is something unique about the Bible that when you turn to it to prepare some thoughts for others, it has an amazing power to instead prepare you.

And so, for all those pondering their future, wondering their past and wandering right now, let there be hope:

Hope and justice: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out,  till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope. Matt 12:20-21

Hope comes when Jesus leads justice to victory. Hope and justice are related. Justice is what is fair and right and Jesus leads it to victory so that we, and even the nations, can put hope in his name.

It is not justice itself that is hopeful; we all know this world is all too often devoid of justice. But it his name – his character, promises, action and person – that is worthy of our hope. 

Notice the simple phrase – ‘put their hope’. Jesus may well lead justice to victory, but we are responsible for the simple decision to ‘put hope’ in him. Otherwise, we remain despairing.

Hope and faith:Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Rom 4:18

Abraham ins known as the father of faith and one of the things he had faith in was hope. He did not stop believing in the joyful  and confident expectation within that God would do what he said he would.

This faith in hope might have been as simple as this: waking up in the morning, aged 100, feeling the creak in his bones and the weakness of his body… a joy springs up that says, ‘God said I would be a father’… Instead of quashing that feeling, Abraham believed it, ‘against all hope’.

Against all hope is a commonly used phrase that originates from Paul’s words in Romans. It means to hope with little reason or justification. Today we may have little reason or justification to hope, to have a confident expectation of the future. But that is exactly when believers like Abraham continue to believe in hope.

Hope and suffering:And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. Rom 5:2-4

Paul was writing to a people threatened with persecution and martyrdom. So he speaks to them about their ‘hope of the glory of God’. Not our faith in the glory of God – he assumes they believe. But that they are confidently expectant of entering heaven and the full glory of God.

Of course we shouldn’t just rejoice in the hereafter. Paul says to rejoice in our sufferings that teach us to persevere that gives us character that produces hope. Go through bad times – don’t give up – refine your character – hope comes and doesn’t disappoint.

Hope and love: Throughout the New Testament, three virtues are commonly linked – faith, hope and love. The most famous occasion is in 1 Cor 13:13: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

One way of understanding the interaction of these three qualities in our lives is:

– Faith is the foundation – we believe in God’s word and it is a solid rock on which to stand.
– Hope is the motivation – because of our foundation, we move confidently into the future.
– Love is the expression – motivated by God’s goodness we can express our lives through love.

It is very hard to love when we have no hope. It is very hard to hope when there is nothing to believe in. God gives us something to believe in, something to look forward to and something to share with those around us. Faith, Hope, Love.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13

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