During this world-wide crisis that we are all a part of, I was trying to think of something appropriate to share with you as it would have been my meeting today. Before the closure of schools, pupils were encouraged to put up paintings to spread hope after a trend started online. Though many of the buildings have closed, one head teacher said the school spirit was still very much alive with online lessons.
Below are some quotes given by teachers and parents about the paintings and drawings created by students from many different schools and homes.
I was led to briefly write about hope since all of the pictures were created with hope as their primary message. I’m sure everyone, at some time or other has had a hope; whether it be for the future of the family, in the giving of a gift there is a hope that it will be gratefully received.
In the unfortunate case of someone being ill, we all hope they will soon be better and, not least in these days we hope that a cure and a vaccine for corona virus will soon be found and all those who are suffering will be well very soon.
The dictionary defines hope as:
the expectation of something desired; thing that gives…object of…to feel hope is to expect and desire.
Even though we all have hope in our life, we can only expect to a certain extent. Our hopes need to be suitably accompanied by faith and, of course trust which, in my opinion, is coupled with faith too, along with obedience.
Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 is a favourite verse of mine; here is what it says in the New Living Translation of the Bible:
Mary Craig in her book ‘Blessings’ writes about a Polish couple; he had been in Auschwitz, she in Ravensbruck. After the war the wife died, and the husband, Stefan, wrote about his children:
"They are in God’s hands – I hope they will learn to have compassion for others."
Out of the experience of the concentration camps, God had given Stefan the ability to hope – even when his wife had died.
I read in an old book “Christians ought to be the most clear-thinking people on earth because they start with a set of values that are basic and have never been proved to be in error, yet, how often are Christians carried along unthinkingly with the crowd?” Just because we’re Christians we cannot expect that everything will be a bed of roses however, since living is a series of events and circumstances with their pleasures and pressures, and these come to us all.
We need to be enthusiastic for the gospel so that we can share our faith without feeling awkward or strange. So we need to have a hope for the future and the faith to face it. In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 5 he tells us:
"Therefore, 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 glorify in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Sometimes we have hopes tinged with worry. I think right now the whole world is worried about what might or will happen and this is understandable; these certainly are unprecedented, crazy, surreal times. So it seems flippant, almost, for me to suggest that you do not worry but that is what we are told, by Jesus, in the book of Matthew…chapter 6 verses 25,27,34…
It sometimes seems impossible to not worry about tomorrow, or even about today…after all - today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday! Do you ever worry about something and then when it’s over think you’ve wasted a good worry because it didn’t turn out too bad in the end anyway? Events like that just confirm that worrying is pointless – it is hope, faith and trust that are important. It seems easy for me to say but in this world there is nothing that is certain except death which will eventually come to us all – and the fact that God is love; always has been and will be to come. His love never changes – whether we hope in him or not, He continually loves and cares for us -how can we still worry when we know that?!
Some words of a song come to mind…maybe we can take encouragement from the fact that even when all around there seems worry and no hope – God still cares…
Today is the International day of Prayer for children and youth… Majors Keith and Shona Pike (International Youth and Children’s Officers) write:
‘We know the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous fear and uncertainty for many in our world. As we come to grips with family and friends social distancing and self-isolating, this anxiety is being especially felt by those most vulnerable in our world – our children. It is our sincere prayer that this intentional focus will help children, youth and families come to understand that God has created them to help make a difference in the world in which they live. As Christians, we trust that God is in control and he is as close to us as the air we breathe. When we pray, God hears, and his word reminds us that we are his children. The power of prayer cannot be underestimated and, in this time of uncertainty, we want our children and youth to know they are not alone. They are not isolated from their God!’
Turning to the Lord in prayer with faith allows us to never walk away empty of hope and strength for He is faithful.
Lord, as we have briefly considered hope in our online worship this morning, help us to be wholly dependent on you and be forward in our trust of you in our lives. We will all, I’m sure, still have hopes but help them to be grounded in you and give us the faith and trust to leave them with you and not worry. As it says in your word; help us not to ‘be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests known to you. Be with us all in these difficult times. I ask that you will be close to Christians the world over and may our prayers be sincere and rooted in you. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Renew your hope and strength today by listening to this song – Overcomer
Thank you for reading.
Written by Jayne Griffin.
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