Summary: So many things in life are up in the air or on hold or have been canceled because of COVID-19. We need the kind of hope that comes from God through Jesus Christ. I believe the absolute best thing I can do for you today is to point you towards hope!
GOD IS IN THE BUSINESS OF HOPE
A Sunday school teacher was asking her six-year-olds about the meaning of Easter. “Children,” she said, “Do you know why we celebrate Easter?”
A little girl raised her hand. “Yes Jenny,” said the teacher. Jenny said, “Is Easter when we put on costumes and go trick-or-treating?” “No, Jenny. That’s Halloween. Does anyone else know?”
A little boy yelled, “It’s when we set off fireworks!” “No Jimmy, that’s 4th of July. Anybody else?”
A shy little girl in the back said, “Easter is when Jesus died.” The teacher replied, “That’s right, Shauna. And what happened to Jesus that makes Easter special?” “Well, he died and got buried. And every Easter he comes out. And if he sees his shadow there’s 6 more weeks of winter.”
That is an oldie, but a goodie. That is not what Easter is about. Even though we often celebrate Easter with baskets and chocolate and hiding eggs, that is not what Easter is about either. Easter is all about the hope that comes from the Resurrection of Jesus. Easter is about hope! God is in the business of hope! The message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is about the hope that God wants to bring to our lives through salvation… and more specifically… salvation through Jesus Christ.
In John 20:18 when the Bible records for us the words of Mary Magdalene to the disciples when she says, “I have seen the Lord!" on that first Easter Morning. It was the first Resurrection Sunday and this woman had a message of hope!
We will get back to John 20, but before we do, I would like to share some other small fun stories about kids and Easter and more importantly other passages with you this morning that spill out hope. Eventually we will make our way back to John 20. I wanted to say… that these passages we will talk about are infected with hope… but we are all social distancing and quarantining ourselves right now so virus-type jokes are just… sick. Those of us who joke as a coping mechanism appreciate those words and those of us who don’t are now just shaking your heads at me.
We are indeed living in serious times and life is upside-down right now! So many things in life are up in the air or on hold or have been canceled because of COVID-19. We need some hope. We need the kind of hope that comes from God through Jesus Christ. I believe the absolute best thing I can do for you today is to point you towards the words of hope in the Bible because God is in the business of hope!
Hope is strength.
Hope is healthy.
Hope is a motivator.
Hope gives direction.
Hope is power.
Hope is healing.
Hope is meaningful.
Hope is necessary.
HOPE IN THE STORY OF RUTH
The first passage of hope I thought of doesn’t even have the word “hope” in it, yet, it is a story all about hope. You see a family had endured 3 deaths and a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law moved and found themselves a destitute and in need. Often when things are dire we talk about hope. We need hope when things are rough. The daughter-in-law goes out into the fields to scavenge for food so they would not die. The passage after she is in the fields literally working herself to death is full of hope.
READ Ruth 2:18-20
“She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. 19 Her mother-in-law asked her, "Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!" Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. "The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz," she said. 20 "The LORD bless him!" Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. "He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead." She added, "That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers."
Naomi and Ruth’s situation was dire. They found blessing and food and if you notice at the end of that passage, redemption as well. Later in the book Naomi realizes that God has been working for their good the whole time and blesses both ladies. The book of Ruth in the Old Testament, if you have never read it, is a story of hope in the midst of dire circumstances and redemption. God sees the dire situation of Naomi and Ruth and places Ruth in Boaz’s field where he can marry Ruth to provide for them.