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Dec 09, 2018

Hope

Hope

Passage: Luke 3:1-6

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Prepare the Way

Category: Hope, Advent

Keywords: advent, hope

As christians, we believe hope is rooted in the conviction that God is not done with us. God is very much at work in our lives.

Scripture:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” - Romans 5:3-5

Devotional:

In 1734, the English poet, Alexander Pope, wrote a poem entitled An Essay on Man in which he gave us the often quoted line: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  I am sure I have used or at least thought of this phrase countless times, but usually at times when I am not feeling particularly despondent or lacking in hope. 

In our daily lives and in our faith journeys, we are often confronted with those occasions when we seek out some semblance of hope to maintain our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.  Illness, loss of loved ones, family turmoil, loss of a job and other work-related setbacks, disappointments in the classroom or on the playing field  -- all can lead to stress and a threat to the normal equilibrium we seek in our lives.  We find ourselves saying, “When will this end?” In these times, Job’s despair from long ago seems relevant in our own lives:  “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” [Job 6:11] 

In such times, we may find ourselves trying to rationalize our pains and disappointments by comparing them to what the people of Jesus’ time must have endured living 2,000 years ago, or what people are currently enduring in the hell-holes of Syria, Yemen, and Central America, or what the poor are facing in the United States.  But trying to rationalize such pains and disappointment does not make them any less painful. 

Our Christian faith cannot make our hurt and suffering go away.  Rather, the New Testament gives guidance on confronting our pain head-on, based on spiritual hope offered in our relationship with God. In Romans 5, Paul – ever the optimist -- tells us to  “.. glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been  poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” [Romans 5:3-5] 

 I am not sure my faith is strong enough to “glory” in suffering, but I have come to understand that hope – freely given to us by God -- is always there for us to use in ways that bring peace and resolution, in ways that can put us on God’s time, not our own time. 

During this Advent Season, we are again reminded of the basis for that relationship that brings fulfilling hope to our lives: the birth of a small child – Emmanuel, God with us -- in a backwaters town of the Roman Empire so long ago but no less relevant today. 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the example that Your Son gave us to find hope and comfort during the pains and pitfalls of our faith journeys. Give us strength to confront our burdens so that they may not deter us from being Your servant-people. Help us light the spiritual candle of hope and purpose in our lives so that Your Word is known to all with whom we interact. In your Son’s name we pray,  Amen.    

Written by Tom Stephens.Tom is a Worship Leader, on the Men’s Ministry Leadership team, participates regularly in the Men’s Ministry, Chair of Volunteers for the Dulles South Food Pantry golf tournament, and is husband to Dianne and father to Elisabeth and Peter.