Hold On. Pray Expectantly! The acronym for hope is not new with me. I got it from a friend, a fellow pastor who was very supportive of my growth and leadership, and who has expressed appreciation to me over the years. I shared that message today with the people at St. John Lutheran Church where I serve as senior pastor. I hope it was helpful and edifying to them!
Perhaps you agree with Red, the character from the film, Shawshank Redemption. He and Andy are talking one day about getting through the difficulties of prison life. And the conversation goes:
Andy: That there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s… there’s somethin’ inside that they can’t get to; that they can’t touch. It’s yours.
Red: What are you talkin’ about?
Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You’d better get used to that idea.
If you’ve seen the movie or read the book you know that Red has a conversion of sorts by the end of the story and learns to hope.
There may be places in your heart where you keep the light of hope from shining. The stakes are too high. The danger of disappointment is too great. The fears of having your hopes crushed are too intimidating. You’ve given up hope.
If that’s so, perhaps this is a good time to consider a hope rekindling of sorts. Wipe away the grime of gloom and hopelessness that pervades your soul in that place and let hope shine in. For Red it was the hope of getting out of prison and finding some joy in life. For you it may be overcoming a bad habit, conquering an addiction, or winning a battle against disease. It may amount to opening your heart to the possibility that something could change…but you don’t know for sure that it will.
Christian hope, in the end, however, isn’t just a wishful thinking that something good may come to pass. Christian hope lays hold of Jesus word:
“In the world you will have trouble. But rejoice! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Jesus’ victory is seen in his resurrection from the dead. It will be fully consummated when he returns to judge the living and the dead. It will be celebrated eternally by all those who look to him in faith, anticipating the eternal joy and relief that he will bring on that Great Last Day.
No matter the darkness of the circumstances you face, or the difficulties of this life, all will be redeemed. Every tear will be wiped away. Eternal joy and celebration awaits all who hope in Jesus and his redemption. I hope you find great comfort in that promise!