Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Soul & Inspiration: Hope

An edited version of a talk for BBC Radio Wiltshire's Soul & Inspiration with Heather Skull.

We are reflecting on the words of the apostle Paul at the end of 1 Corinthians 13, where he says, “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Earlier we thought a little about faith. Now we are going to focus on hope.

We often tend to think of “hope” in terms of vague optimism. We hope a special something is going to happen in our lives, but we can’t be sure that it will. Many perhaps hope to escape the problems generated credit crunch by winning the National Lottery. Others hope to win talent shows like the X-Factor, or to score a winning goal at and FA Cup Final. Some hope!

The Christian hope however, is much stronger than that. It is not wishful thinking – just hoping that everything will turn out for the best. Hope is faith looking forward to what God will do in the future. Hope seems to be in pretty short supply these days of Global Warming and economic gloom. Politians talk of hope and change. But we tend to be a bit sceptical about their promises.

Here’s a promise you can trust,

“I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

What is this “hope and future” that the Lord promises his people? God has acted in Jesus Christ to rid this world of evil and suffering. Jesus died and rose again to give us hope. With hope in our hearts we can face death knowing that for the believer, death will bring us face to face with our Saviour Jesus Christ. But death is not the end. The Bible teaches that Jesus will one day return to our planet. He will hold the world to account and make sure that justice is done. Jesus will raise his people from the dead and renew the whole creation. Suffering, sorrow and death will be no more.

Having this hope gives our lives meaning. There is nothing random or pointless about our existence. God has wonderful plans for his people. This puts the problems we face in this world into perspective,
For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18).

This hope is something to get excited about. Our children are already scanning the pages of shopping catalogues, to see what they would like for Christmas. They are certainly excited about what they hope to receive. Christians face the future with hope, because we have so much to look forward to,

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2).

Is that your hope too?

You can listen to this week's edition of Soul & Inspiration here. The talk is 33.55 into the programme.

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