At morning staff devotions recently, Cortney Westbrook Sargent, one of our Urban Family Communications personalities, talked about gardening and how you have to maintain the garden if you expect to reap the rewards. He made the point that although you have to plant the vegetables, the weeds will grow up all on their own.
And weeds, in this analogy, are problems in life. Troubles are many in this world, but one of the great blessings of knowing the Lord is to read from His Word that He is with us whatever we may have to deal with. Another great blessing of knowing the Lord is the assurance that this life is not all there is. There is an afterlife in heaven for those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. This brings me to the word for today: hope.
Hope. It’s one of my favorite words. My lovely and talented wife Alison and I liked it so much we used it as a middle name for our first born, our daughter Wriley. Now, I know Wikipedia is not considered a final authority on much of anything, but I like the way it defines hope: “Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”
The word hope is used a lot in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 it says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love may be number one, but hope did make the big three.
Hope is more than just keeping our fingers crossed for good luck. Hope is a sense of optimism and anticipation about the life God gives us.
The opposite of hope is despair. If you look at what is happening in our world right now, there are many reasons to despair. So many of our fellow Americans have forgotten God or have outright rejected Him.
But the people I most admire are those who have had terrible, things happen to them; yet they get through those difficult times and maintain hope for a better day tomorrow by trusting in God.
Have you ever wondered that if God is good, as the Bible teaches, and all powerful, as the Bible teaches, then why does He allow bad things to happen? Why pain? Why disease? Why suffering? Why war? I think everyone who has a basic understanding of the Christian faith entertains this question sometimes.
If you ask me, in our finite way of thinking, there is no totally satisfactory answer to that question. One partial explanation is that God gives man a free will to choose his own way, and because of that free will, one person’s choices can negatively and unfairly affect the lives of others.
For example, I’ll give you this family experience. Twenty-five years ago a man decided to get drunk and drive. He ran a red light, slammed into another car, and my cousin’s wife was killed instantly, leaving my cousin a young widower and their two-year-old daughter without a momma. God didn’t stop the drunk from driving. Why not? Again, because, unless He chooses to intervene supernaturally (often called a miracle), He gives humans, both believers and non-believers, the freedom to make poor, sometimes tragic, choices.
But Christians should always have hope because we know in the end, God wins. Even in death we are not like those who have no hope. Our hope and our faith are in the words of Jesus that He has a place for us when we leave this earth.
Isaiah 40:31 says this: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.”
(This article first appeared in the AFA Journal here: http://www.afajournal.org/past-issues/2015/september/hope-springs-eternal/)