Reading my weather app this morning I almost dropped my phone. A week from today it is projected to be 51 degrees! That's a near 80 degree swing when you count windchill. Just the sight of that number, 51, in print was enough to brighten my day. With the simple scroll of the thumb I saw two digits that provided the endurance to plow through yet another ridiculously cold day. Spring will be here soon. Never early but always on time.
The Christian belief of hope functions much the same way.
Life is hard. There is no way around it. And for many people it feels darker than it has ever been. Employment insecurity, family issues, financial stress, and destructive habits seems to block out the promises of God in our day-to-day lives. Pile on top of that the fact that this weather (cold) and this time of year (dark at 5:15) produce greater amounts of depression, and you have a formula for a hopeless outlook. Our future feels like it is shrinking. Every conversation becomes a turf war, and we see no options to increase our optimism. Anyone been there lately? If so, you are running low on hope.
Hope is the intentional habit of believing God's promises to endure when we would rather mail it in. Hope is not a trite Hallmark card. The hope of the world is Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is waiting to take full responsibility for your life, bringing courage and optimism even we have had enough. If you feel you have had enough, it is time for Jesus.
Jesus Christ offers hope through the forgiveness of our sin. Through his death on the cross, any shame and guilt we carry is a self imposed prison from which he is ready to stage a jail break. Jesus Christ is our hope forever. In him we have the confidence that even death cannot keep us down - if we trust in him. Jesus Christ is our hope in the cold and dark moments we each might be facing this very moment. He is the promise that no matter what we face, we do not have to face it alone. God is with us, and God is for us.
This week I hope you actively seek opportunities to stretch your trust in God. Weekly worship is a minimal threshold. Even the week we had to cancel worship, I could feel my temper and frustration grow. This was not an accident. Habits like prayer, reflection, Bible reading, service to others, or inviting others to worship is a good place to begin. But whatever you do, do not allow yourself to remain in that cold, dark, dead place that our soul will always leans towards. Lean towards Jesus. Spring, and the promise of his resurrection are on the way!
See you Sunday at 9:30 or 11. Extend some hope to someone in your life with an invite to join you at worship this week!