Article 5: Letters from the desk of a Great-Grandfather
One of the big differences between Christians and Non Christians is the matter of hope. Paul didn't want his young converts to be without hope like the Gentiles were. They are described as being without hope and without God in the world.
'We have a hope that is steadfast and certain'. But we must be clear about what the hope is. While still a teacher, I had a chat with some boys just after their Mock GCSE exams. One boy sat six subjects, his top mark being 45. I said, ''Will you do OK in the summer?'' He said, ''I hope so''. Another boy sat nine subjects, lowest mark 75. To the same question he replied, ''I hope so''. One hoped where there was little hope. The other had a confident expectation about what was coming.
Personally I hope to see NUFC top the Premiership next year and also hope to see an end to coronavirus. See what I mean? Little hope for the former, confident expectation for the latter. When the Bible speaks of hope, it is of a confident expectation of what will be. Not 'if'' but 'when'. Let me remind you of three areas of hope we all (should) share.
1. I hope for a better me. Since day one of my Christian life, possibly even before, God has been committed to my improvement. He is at work within me to make want to do and be able to do what pleases him. ''When does he start?'' I hear some cry. Unkind! But I am still changing, even at this stage of my life. You'll have to ask Ruth for an example. God uses every experience to this end, even the situation we're all in. It's the School of Life. That's the school where the tests come before the lessons! Presently I am being homeschooled by the Holy Spirit to be a better me. That's my hope.
2. I hope for everlasting life. Increasingly precious at my age are the words of Jesus, ''He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and he who lives and believes in me will never die.'' That is definitely my hope! I don't want to leave just yet, but if through the virus I became a statistic rather than a survivor, then I still win. Death is a doorway, not a dead end. It's a win-win situation. When you come to my memorial, I shall be more alive than I have ever been. That's my hope.
3. I hope for a better future. I believe that covid 19 will be defeated. I have hope in the skill and ability of our scientific community to develop a vaccine soon. I hope to be able to go out again soon. I hope to get my hip done. I hope to be part of a changed society where neighbourliness is the norm, where people bless and help each other in greater equality nationally. Not ''if'' but ''when''. The Times reports that people feel less lonely and isolated than they did before the lockdown. May it continue and increase. That's my hope.
Your homework for today is to make your own list of things you hope for.
Years ago, during the stressful, dark winter evenings, Ruth and I would get out the brochures, tickets, passports to remind ourselves of the holiday that was coming. It was bought and paid for. Guaranteed. Now we can get out our Bibles and remind ourselves of the future that God guarantees us. Bought and paid for. Not 'if' but 'when'.
As the song says, ''I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.'' If we get down, fearful, depressed, then contact the Holy Spirit. Ask him to come to quieten our fears, to fill us again with promised joy and peace so we overflow with hope. Not 'if' but 'when'.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.