I preached last week at church, and I was given the theme of HOPE. It’s a theme I’ve preached and mused on in my blog plenty of times before but last Sunday I shared some of what I’d been reflecting on and I wanted to share some of that here too in case anyone else just needs a reminder that God is with them on those difficult days. And let’s be honest, I don’t think you can really talk about hope too much!
At the moment, we don’t have to look far to find problems in the world. You only need to start scrolling through the news. And on a personal level, we will all almost certainly have problems in our own lives.
In Psalm 112:7, it says of a ‘righteous man’: ‘They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.’ We can trust deeply in God so that we are so firm on who he is that we don’t fear bad news.
Jesus said in John 16:33,“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In 2 Timothy 3, it says, “But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days.” They thought they were living in end times then, and at times most of us probably also do now.
The Bible never says it’s going to be easy to follow God. In fact, it makes it abundantly clear that it won’t be. Following Jesus doesn’t mean no more bad news. Trouble will come our way. BUT, God is bigger.
Hope doesn’t exist without hopelessness. If things were easy then we wouldn’t see hope and God’s faithfulness for the beautiful, wondrous gift that it is.
It wouldn’t be hope if we didn’t need it.
I think for me someone summed up this kind of juxtaposition, this feeling of the hope and hopelessness sitting side-by-side, earlier this week. I took a funeral for a gentleman who had been poorly for a number of years but ultimately died of COVID. Only one member of his family was able to say goodbye in person, the others had to say goodbye on the phone. One of his children said, ‘I hate COVID because it took away my Dad, but I am thankful for COVID because it ended a life which had become increasingly difficult.’ It is possible to be both utterly hopeless and sad yet grateful and hopeful, all at the same time.
Sometimes we might wish everything was better and things were easy but it’s important to remember that God is with us in the messiness, in the trouble and problems. And, that he knew we’d experience them.
It is not a surprise to him. And, he is bigger.
The rest of my sermon (about 20 mins) was all about Isaiah 40 and an announcement of hope. If you fancy listening to that you can do that here.