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5. HOPE: What does it Mean to be a Mature Christian Disciple? -- 1 Peter 1:3-9

What does it Mean to be a Mature Christian Disciple? 5. HOPE 1 Peter 1:3-9

By Ted Schroder,
www.tedschroder.com
July 23, 2017

“Hope is a wonderful gift from God, a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s harshest trials.
• When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.
• When we are overworked and exhausted, hope gives us fresh energy.
• When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits.
• When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going.
• When we lose our way and confusion blurs the destination, hope dulls the edge of panic.
• When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.
• When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control.
• When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery.
• When we find ourselves unemployed, hope tells us we still have a future.
• When we are forced to sit back and wait, hope gives us the patience to trust.
• When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we’re not alone… we’ll make it.
• When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through our grief.

Put simply, when life hurts and dreams fade, nothing helps like hope.”
(Charles Swindoll, Hope Again, xi,xii)

Hope is the antidote to despair. Job experienced despair when he suffered the loss of his children, his wealth and his health. “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?.... My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope” (Job 6:11;7:6).

Why is depression so prevalent? Dr. Armand Nicholi, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, maintained that many young people feel that their secular culture fails to provide answers to questions of purpose, meaning and destiny. “We fail, they feel, to provide some reason for hope.”

If you do not believe that life has any purpose, that there is no God, you will end up with no hope for the future. Germaine Greer, the feminist author, maintains that it is a waste of time hunting for a purpose in your having been born on earth. “Once you understand that there is no point to your existence, the challenge is not, as Sartre said, the question of suicide; but working out how to make the best of what you’ve got, even though it’s probably a bum steer.” (Areté 52, Alphabetical Autobiography)
The defiant atheist will hear nothing about the comfort eternity offers. She prefers hopelessness to any acknowledgement of God’s purpose.

It is so easy to give way to despair, to think that our suffering will never end, that we are victims of our circumstances. This world is full of suffering. There are 65.5 million refugees, displaced people, who have fled from their homes because of war, famine and persecution; most from Afghanistan, Syria and South Sudan. As we age we suffer loss of physical ability, loss of loved ones, loss of personal value. This life offers little hope in and of itself. Hope is not wishful thinking. It is not, as H.L. Mencken defined it as “a pathological belief in the occurrence of the impossible.”

Even as Christians we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies. We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something that we do not yet possess. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience” (Rom 8:23-25 JBP).

Waiting is hard to do. But the mature Christian disciple has learned the “hope always means waiting for something that we do not yet possess.” When we are in distress, when we are hurting, when we are impatient, the words of the psalmist come to mind: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God….I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning? Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I’ll yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Ps 42:5,9,11).

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Hope sustains us on the journey because we believe we are traveling on the road God has set before us to the fulfillment of his promises.

But how do we hope in the Lord? How can we find the faith that is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1). “If for this life only we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor 15:19). We must have an eternal perspective. God has destined us for something much greater than this life.

St. Peter tells us. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Our living hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this life Jesus suffered the most painful trials, endured death on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead. God has shown that he can bring us through whatever we face in this world, no matter how hopeless it may seem to us at the time. We are born again into that inheritance, into a relationship with our heavenly Father, who keeps in heaven for us the treasures that can never perish, spoil or fade. What a promise!

That is why hope is described as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf” (Hebrews 6:19-20). This living hope in Christ and the eternal life he promises is like an anchor that secures us against the raging storms of life. We cannot be swept away by our earthly circumstances, our physical deterioration, whatever may threaten our wellbeing because we have this anchor for the soul. “Pessimism is altogether alien from the true Christian spirit. A Christian will always be an optimist, not in a superficial, sentimental sense, but because of the great stronghold of hope which is his in Christ” (W.H. Griffith Thomas).

Make this your prayer for the journey: “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” (Rom 15:13).

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