Hope in God (20-05-20)
Bible Readings: Romans 5:1-5
Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
As this pandemic drags on, while lockdown and social distancing disrupt our lives in so many ways and while the likelihood of holidays, parties, church services, theatre visits and sports events are still somewhere over the horizon, it is easy to get despondent and to lose heart. It is into a time of suffering that these words from St Paul are written, words that speak of the hope that can come through suffering.
Paul starts by talking about being justified which, in this context, means to be put right with God. We are put right with God through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. And when we are put right with God, just look at the things that follow – peace, grace, glory, hope, love and the presence of the Holy Spirit. These are all ours when we put our faith in Jesus. Wow!
Each of these is worth a serious pause for thought, but it is to ‘hope’ that I want to turn now. We often think of hope as a verb, something we do, akin to wishful thinking. But the hope that Paul is talking about here is a noun, something we will have, something tangible. Let me try and explain the difference.
In this pandemic I am hoping (verb) that I will eventually be able to spend time with my grandchildren. But the thing that will make this possible, my hope (noun), is that we will have a vaccine against the virus. Hope, for something that we do not yet have, is based on a promise, and until the scientists promise that they can produce a vaccine, my hope of spending time with my grandchildren is uncertain.
The hope we have as Christians is a different matter. Our hope is based on the promises of God which, as Paul says, will not disappoint us, because they are based on the love of God, which is poured into our hearts through his Holy Spirit.
What are the things that you hope for at this time? Do not give up on them, but place your hope in something that can make your hopes a reality – the love of God and his promises to us. Let us pray to him for the things that will make a difference to our situation today.
Father God, bless the work of the scientists as they seek to find vaccines and treatments for this pandemic and, in these difficult times, keep our eyes fixed on the hope that we have in you and on your love which you pour into our hearts. Amen.