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Sunday, 5 September 2010

The importance of Hope.

According to news reports in recent days, a number of the relatives of the trapped Chilean miners have established a makeshift camp near to the head of the mineshaft. They have named it "Camp Hope".

Most, if not all, of those who are likely to read this post will be familiar with the old adage "Where there's life, there's hope." However, I can recall many instances in which it has also been shown that "Where there's hope, there's life."!

Of course, I'm not referring to hope as the sort of unfounded assertion of Charles Dickens' character, Mr Micawber, that "something will turn up"! I'm thinking of the hope that is described throughout the written Word of God - the Bible. This is a good hope; a God-based hope; a positively expectant outlook on future time - yes, and even beyond!

Hope was the very life of Israel. Jeremiah speaks of YHWH as being "... the hope of Israel" (17:13); and Joel says that YHWH is "... a hope (refuge) to His people" (3:16). The Psalms, too, are full of such references. "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You." (39:7) Towards the end of the Psalter, another of the psalmists declares "... happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob; whose hope is in YHWH, his God." (146:5). Even in that most mournful of books, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the prophet is able to burst out: "I say to myself, 'YHWH is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him'." (3:24)

Then when we move into the the pages of the New Testament, we find the belief that the ancient prophecies have been fulfilled; that the promised Kingdom is at hand; the promised Messiah has come in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. The world into which He was born was, in many ways, a world not unlike our own - an age in which, for many, hope had faded, and faith had benn lost. But the N.T. writers show that, in that same Jesus, hope has been restored and renewed.(see Acts 26:6)

Paul, on trial before the High Council of the Jewish people, cries out: "... I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!" (Acts 23:6) Writing to the infant church in the great metropolis of Rome, he assures them that "... endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (5:4-5; NLT). Towards the end of that same letter, he prays "... that God, the source of hope , will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." (15:13).

The writer of the Letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus is certain that "... Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ." (3:6); while Peter, in his first pastoral letter, encourages his readers (now, as well as then!), in a situation of persecution: "... even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it." (3:14-15).

Yes, while there is life, there is hope. But without hope, a situation can become unbearable. Just be sure that your hope is placed in the One Who is the Hope of the world, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

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