The God of hope

The days are longer, and the signs of new life are appearing in nature around us. How encouraging it was to see first the delicate snowdrops, then followed by the crocuses, daffodils, magnolias, and early blossoms. They tell us that winter is passing and create the anticipation of Spring and Summer. Winter can be a difficult time with the long dark days, the frost and snow, and the violent storms. But now the days are longer, the mornings are lighter and each day the sunset is a little later. These things give us hope; something to which we can look forward.

Hope is in short supply today. Our world leaders are struggling ineffectually to cope with the many crises. There is little hope for the future. Economic prospects are not good, even for the prosperous countries of the West. The economic crisis may continue for some time yet. In parts of Africa, South America and Asia poverty blights the lives of millions of people. They live in simple homes, eat one meal a day and find it hard to find the school fees for their children, the next generation. Life is very fragile and uncertain in the face of diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. The threat of extremism and terrorism is growing and may be with us for many years to come.

Hope comes from God, even when we are passing through the darkest of situations. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to Christians living in Rome, the capital of the Empire. They were already experiencing persecution and within a few years would face terrible persecution under Emperor Nero. Near the end of the letter Paul writes, “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.” What a wonderful view of the living God; he is “the God of hope!” He can “fill us with all joy and peace”, so that we “overflow with hope.” He gives us power and strength by his Holy Spirit to face the future with hope.

This hope becomes real in our lives as we look to God and “trust in him.” In Psalm 146 the psalmist writes, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”

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