Reading: 1 Peter 1 v3-9 (Good News Translation)
Hope is something everyone needs, and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, how old you are, how much money you have (or don’t have), life without hope is miserable. Where there is no hope, there is no future for this life or the next. It gives us something to look forward to and it also gives us peace.
If we think about hope in the normal sense, it’s usually something we wish for. For example, we hope to have a nice holiday, we hope the weather will be nice at the weekend, and for the last 3 weeks we’ve hoped that lockdown won’t carry on for another 3 weeks… This kind of hope usually means that something may or may not happen, there are no guarantees – and here we are at the start of another 3 weeks of lockdown…!!
But the hope that the bible talks about is different. It can be defined as the confident expectation of what God has promised us based on his faithfulness. The word hope in Hebrew actually means ‘to expect’. This is the kind of hope that Peter is talking about as he encourages us to give thanks to God our Father for his mercy and for raising Jesus from the dead. When we come to faith in Christ, we are reborn and receive his salvation, and it’s this new birth that gives us a new living hope. And this hope is a certainty, it is a sure thing that we can 100% count on.
Hebrews 6 v19 says:
‘we have this hope, as an anchor for our lives. It is safe and sure and goes through the curtain of the heavenly temple, into our inner sanctuary’.
God also promises us blessings that cannot be taken away, because unlike earthly things, they do not perish, spoil or fade away. This all comes from keeping our faith in Jesus alive every day. So, there is something very special about us having this hope because it is life changing.
Life is rarely perfect or straightforward though and being a Christian doesn’t stop us from going through times of trial and suffering, pain and loss. The time we are going through right now will be causing people to suffer in different ways. For some it’s the isolation and not being able to see friends and loved ones, or the fear of not being able to say a final goodbye to someone. For others it maybe the insecurity about jobs and money and what will happen once we get through this. These are all very valid concerns and if we let them, can seem insurmountable and start to pull us away from our faith. Yet as we read our passage, we see Peter encouraging us to see our suffering in a positive way, because even though we may struggle for a while, we should see our faith strengthen as a result. Just as gold has to be tested for its purity and put through the refiner’s fire, it is the same with our faith, which is much more precious than gold.
This current trial we are all going through as a nation and globally, is a chance for us to reflect on how strong our faith in God really is. I say that because it’s easy to keep the faith when we can go to church each week, where we can worship and fellowship together – but it’s far more difficult to keep the faith and worship on our own, in isolation. And yet if Jesus is living in us and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we should be passionate about holding onto our faith and drawing closer to Jesus – through worship, reading the bible, praying and sharing the gospel in different ways. Isaiah 40 v31 says:
‘But those who’s hope is 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’
When we hold onto our faith, we have the hope (the expectation) of all the blessings that God is keeping for us in heaven and of course the hope of eternal life with him.
So I want to encourage you to keep praying, keep listening to God through his word, and hold onto the life giving, transforming hope that we have in the risen Lord Jesus so that you can share in the blessings that only come from him.
Let me finish with a verse from Romans 15 v13:
‘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’.