Summary: If you want to experience hope, give hope

Sermon: “Experience hope”

One afternoon, a few years ago, as I was sitting in my office when I received a very unusual phone call. Someone I did not know wanted to talk to me. I had no idea what it was about. We probably spoke for about an hour. He said he was a retired UM pastor. He told me that he had been calling churches in the area for help to get some groceries and pay some bills. Church after church said they could not help him. To be honest, I had my doubts too. Maybe he was trying to rip me off. He had fallen into hard times. A few months before he called me, he had had his leg amputated. His kidneys were failing and needed dialysis three times a week. His insurance was not enough to pay all his expenses. His pension had run out. During the months I spent with Clayton, his electricity was cut off, his wife left him, and he was evicted for not paying his rent.

I don’t know what kind of life you have had. My guess is that most of us have had our ups and downs. Make ends meet. Negotiate with life for the things we have. Do you know what I am talking about?

You have had disappointments; you have lost hope in people and things you believed in:

• Like Clayton, The economy hit you hard: two jobs & not enough hours, bad health insurance, and not enough money for all the bills. You have wondered, where is God in all this?

• God made you a planner. You had it all planned: 2000 SAT scores, done with college at 22, good paying job at 23, married at 24, 2 kids, 6 grandkids; and today you find yourself alone. You have wondered, where is God in all this?

• Marriage: He promised the moon, you promised eternal honeymoon. Things are messy, not what you thought it would be like. At home, all hell breaks loose. You have wondered, where is God in all this?

• If none of this relates to you and have never experience doubts or hopelessness, maybe you know someone. Otherwise, sit and relax, God may speaking to somebody

When I have gone through problems, I have wondered why I even bother praying to God. But that’s probably something I wrestle with. Right? I have to remind myself “there is a hope in me that is greater than the despair around me.” God knows…

The Good news, we are not the first group to struggle with doubts and hopelessness. Paul struggled with it and speaks to the Church of Rome about fighting despair. Romans 8:18-20 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope.”

Paul went through many hardships, he was persecuted, arrested, shipwrecked, and here in this chapter, he pauses to talk to the Romans saying [go to Bible]: I CONSIDER…The GLORY that will be REVEALED…The CREATION WAITS…SUBJECTED TO FRUSTRATION…

There is greatness inside of all us that God put there for a reason, so that when despair surrounded us from every direction, so that when sin would overwhelm us, we would remind ourselves that we were made for more. (I was made for more) “There is a hope in me that is greater than the despair around me.”

A school district with a hospital program, assigned a teacher to visit a child who had been in an accident. The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much. But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean.”

“We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He is fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.” Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy.”

God would not have sent his Son Jesus if there was no hope for your life today.

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