Hope – we’d almost given up hearing that word

Listen to the message here

Here in the United Kingdom, we’re in the second week of being told to stay at home to avoid catching or spreading the dreaded Coronavirus infection. The BBC News has little else to report, other than the situation with the virus itself or the economic effects it is causing. On the BBC News a couple of days ago, they admitted: “Hope – we’d almost given up hearing that word. It’s unusual to see the word Hope!”

Sadly, that’s the truth for many people – they have almost given up on hope. This was true before this pandemic, and is even more true because of it. We see literally hundreds of people – individuals, families, households – struggling with poverty, hunger and homelessness in our mercy mission work. The people we meet have little or no hope for their future. And the effect of the current health pandemic is that it has thrust thousands more into the same situation. 

Like a tree, bare and lifeless through the winter, with seemingly no springtime to look forward towards; their lives are similarly stark and severe. 

But no matter how harsh the winter, springtime will come; the changing of the seasons go on regardless of worldwide pandemics. Green shoots will start to appear, leaves will suddenly sprout, and springtime will arrive once more. We might not see any sign of it right now; the cold wind and the morning frost does not hint of a change ahead. And so we keep our heads down, pull the blankets around us – but we hope of warmer and better times to come.

Of course, we know the seasons change; there is a familiar pattern that is unchanging. Spring follows winter as sure as day follows night. That is the grand scheme of things as we know it. And, of course, that’s how we know that we can hope – we have seen it before. 

But, of course, this worldwide pandemic we now face is completely new to us – we have never, ever, seen anything like this before in our lifetime. Never before, in living memory, has there been a worldwide devastation such as the one we face today, or the risk to life for so many in our own communities from such a deadly virus. And never before, in living memory, has there been such a widespread destruction and devastation of a life we had taken for granted, and relied upon. The whole fabric of our society – our economy – seems to be torn apart and turned upside down.

And because of that, many have lost hope. But their hope was in the wrong place to start off with! 

You see, when you put your hope in earthly things – in the economy, in your work, in your possessions, in your position, in your routine, in your country, in your government, and in the world – your hope is set upon shifting sand. Economies falter (as we are seeing now), work is fleeting, possessions are worthless when your health is at stake, your routine is subject to sudden change; the country and your government are merely human, full of frailties and prone to getting things wrong, and the world is falling apart as global warming threatens our very existence.

I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Yes, God is in control. Despite the chaos around us, He is in control of it all. He knows the future – and despite your past, He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We might not understand this part of the plan that He has for our future – how this fits in, what it’s all about, what the purpose is, and what we have to learn from it – but He is in control, and this is part of His intricate plan. 

Of course, He doesn’t want us to suffer – but His ultimate goal is to save us, through His precious Son, Jesus Christ – who suffered and died so that we could be saved. If you don’t know Him yet, then there is no better time to get to know Him, and to discover that He has a plan for your life – to give you a hope and a future.

May we pray …

Heavenly Father, Thank You that you give us hope. Thank You that you have a plan for us – to give us a hope and a future. We face uncertain times, and difficult circumstances, right now; and we don’t understand. We confess that we’d almost given up hearing the word, Hope. But we now Thank You that You are our Hope, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen