Summary: Hope is so much more than crossed fingers and waiting for the unknown to happen or not happen. Hope in the resurrected Jesus means that although your world is shaken, your soul will not be. Pastor Jarrod shares this hope in today’s message.
In an ESPN interview last month, a reporter shared what NBA super-star, Steph Curry, said regarding his “killer instinct” in playing opposing teams. He said, “I want to make them lose all hope.” That’s a zinger. And Curry does an exceptional job doing that.
Ponder it: “Losing all hope.” What do we mean by hope? Let’s start with what we don’t mean. Hope is not “I hope that ice-storm doesn’t happen tonight,” or “I hope I get a raise.” Hope is not “You think you’ll get offered the job? I hope so.” Hope is not, “Do you think you’ll get audited this year? I hope not.” That is biting your nails waiting to see how things play out and anticipating a chance they will work out. That’s not hope. That’s wishful thinking.
So what IS hope? Hope is, as one writer put it, not a “hope-so” but a “know-so.” Hope is, “Christmas is coming I can’t wait to see what it brings!” Not, I hope Christmas is coming. But I know it is! Feasting, surprise, gifts, and laughter is coming! Hope is knowing there’s peace before you while circumstances “Steph Curry” you. Hope is knowing deliverance is coming when your circumstances suggest it never will. Hope is knowing that although your tears are flowing your laughter is coming.
Hope is always linked to faith. And true hope and real faith are always rooted in God. Hope, true hope, living/breathing hope, biblical hope, is always grounded in God—His ways, His promises—and trusting God and His ways and promises despite the circumstances we’re in.
Just as ice-storms and (what feels like) dead-end jobs threaten our “hope-so’s,” it seems there is something more sinister afoot in the universe always threatening our “know-so’s.” We risk running out of hope. We risk losing all hope. We try to even protect ourselves from having to have hope! Hope is as vital to the human condition as air, but as fragile as a sand dollar.
The Hebrew writer penned, Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen.” See those words? Assurance. Conviction. Of that not yet seen—impossible to see, perhaps, due to pain, loss, suffering.
The author of Hebrews, and the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter (where we’ll be turning in a moment) were writing to Christians under great suffering. The Apostle Peter is writing to his people who are being persecuted, experiencing death, loss of homes and property, exposure to devastating hardships. In 1 Peter, the word “suffering” is used 16 times. This tells us that the greatest threat to your hope and mine is suffering.
Many of us, unbeliever, and even believer, alike walk a thin line to tipping into that abyss of “losing all hope.” Circumstances, loss, failure, suffering, can be the winds and waves that blow us over into the void of hopelessness.
In fact, I wonder who today is already in that freefall? How many of you are wavering—unbeliever and believer alike. Some of you are here today because this is the one time of year you’re committed to attending Church. You promised your friend or family you’d come, or you gave into the guilt and decided to come. Either way, welcome to you!
But live long enough and you will experience severe tests of your hope too. How about right now? Are you struggling with hope? Are you losing all hope? Have you lost hope? Then Peter’s message is the same to you as it was to them: Hope is alive! Though your tears are flowing your laughter is coming!
1 Peter 1:1-2: 1] Peter, an apostle [though he’s speaking more as “Pastor Peter”] of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
A lot there. But what’s at the heart of Peter’s first words? This: YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN! Perhaps this is an Easter Truth you needed to hear more than anything!
C.S. Lewis, in his work Surprised by Joy, wrote that, with God, the ultimate punishment, the ultimate despair, is to be “left utterly and absolutely outside—repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored [by God].” Isn’t that the horror behind suffering? That you are ignored by God? That you are forgotten?
Peter is saying, NO! God is not ignoring you. You are not forgotten! In fact, Peter doesn’t just say “God” here, but God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He’s saying the fullness of God Himself is with you. You have his full heart and attention. Though suffering is shedding the blood of your body and heart, Jesus shed his blood for you. How could he ever forget you? Ignore you? Hope is alive! Though your tears are flowing laughter is coming!