THE GOD OF HOPE
Pastor Vernon Giesbrecht
No doubt you have been listening or watching the news and daily updates on the spread of the coronavirus within Ohio, the nation, and around the world. The tireless and dangerous work of our health professionals, first responders, and police fighting this “unseen enemy” is to be admired and applauded! Yet, the predictions of the number of deaths related to this pandemic are disturbing, even if everyone observes the hygiene and social distancing guidelines recommended by the government.
In this worrisome and isolating time, however, the resilience of our nation’s people has evidenced itself on social media. Music has played a role. All the way from the “Baby Shark Hand Washing Challenge: Wash your hands, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo” (an annoying but good reminder), to individuals reworking familiar tunes to virus-related lyrics (some comic relief), to a group of studio singers from Nashville performing as a cell-phone choir singing “It Is Well With My Soul” (spawning other cell-phone choirs singing of the Christian hope.)
Hope! Isn’t this what our world is longing for during this alarming time? Not a “loose hope”, as in “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow”. But, a foundational hope, one that gives a person a sense of security and that offers peace in the face of that greatest fear – Death! Of the few sermons I heard during last weekend, including our own from Pastor Chris, all reminded us that true hope rests in our God – Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Those who by faith have believed the Father’s redemption plan from ages past, and have trusted in Jesus as the only Savior from sin, and have as a result received the Holy Spirit into their life, those are the ones who have true hope!
Take some time to read Romans 15:1-13. Hope is mentioned a number of times. The Apostle Paul’s intention was to encourage the diverse church in Rome that the hope of the gospel was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles, and that they should encourage each other in that hope to the glory of God. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Verse 4)
Then he finishes the passage, mid-chapter, with a kind of doxology. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Verse 13) Hope and peace come to us by believing and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And, it’s not just a loose hope, but a foundational, eternal hope, finding its source in the promises and plans of God. A couple of modern paraphrases of the Bible, The Message and J.B. Philipps N.T. respectively, put it this way: “filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” and “your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.”
While we are grateful for medical science, for data gathering and forecasting, and for the dedication and vigilance of so many to win “this war”, the ultimate hope for the believer is found in God, our Creator, our Sustainer, our Comforter, and our Savior! May we be reminded of our true hope today and in the coming days.