When you have faith in something you can rely on, then hope follows. When you put your faith in something which is unreliable, something which can’t be trusted, or even in yourself, then you can’t expect that what you hope for has any certainty. Indeed hope becomes little more than wishful thinking. The “you do you” culture offers little hope for fullness of life. God is the only one who can give us assurance of things hoped for.
If you have lived for any period of time and not learnt the value of hope, then life is just not educating you. Tragically, a life without hope can never be full and to have a certain hope requires faith in something bigger than oneself.
I have watched my mother slowly killed off by cancer, I have watched the dementia decline of my father’s journey into death and I have seen my daughter’s meningococcal meningitis shackle her to ICU medical technology. And then there was the aftermath of sinful behaviour which culminated in one of my closest friends taking his own life. Just in this last fortnight we have all felt the shock as a crazed gunman cut down our fellow human beings in his lunacy. Our prayers go up to God for all affected by this tragedy, that hope for better days would again be the air we can all breathe.
My story is not unique but this stuff has an impact. It makes you who you are and reveals the weakness of a “you do you” story.
I remember my cancer ridden mother at Calvary Hospital saying to me, “I am not good enough for heaven”. It is worth remembering that this is the same mother who sent me to Sunday School to learn to be good. You might be thinking “She should have gone to spec savers…oops… I mean, Sunday School.” Mum did go to church before she died and while she struggled with not being good enough for heaven, she learnt about faith in Jesus Christ and the hope he offers for forgiveness. She learnt to trust in God’s promise of resurrection and her prayers of faith are a treasure neatly folded in what was once her bedside Bible.
I think my father’s belt in some sense catches his story. When it came off at my conception it was for pleasure, when it came off during my life it meant pain, when he forgot to put it on in the nursing home his pants fell down, but he knew where the belt failed the death of Jesus Christ would cover his shame.
I have to tell you that there is nothing like hope to fill your life when your daughter lies in ICU in need of a miracle. She, like me, was conceived in pleasure, birthed in pain, and lived a life somewhere in between. She’s a survivor, but I admit to a moment when I was preparing her eulogy. Before she was sick, her God was a distant consideration, but now she lives by faith in Jesus Christ, fully alive and full of hope that this will never change. At her wedding she told everyone that when things were going badly for her or her friends and life was empty, that her mother would always say, “Rachel, you all need Jesus.” Now there’s some good advice for people in need of hope.
Why? Because when your faith is rightly placed hope follows.
I admit that there are moments in life that can have you questioning Jesus’ words, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”. But questioning Jesus’ words proves to be no remedy to emptiness. When it comes to faith in Jesus Christ, there is hope for forgiveness after sin, healing for the sick, death is given life in resurrection, and our inability to be good doesn’t damage the truth that hope springs eternal in the love of God. That love is for every day but more on that next week.