If you are looking for a word to begin this new year, 2009, I would offer you this one – hope.
Not the hope that the world offers, that proves to be a delusion, but real and lasting hope. The world offers enticing attractions – of wealth, of happiness, of pleasure. All to the good perhaps, while the delusion lasts. But sooner or later all these hopes fail, turn to ash, and are blown away. People fail us, the ones we most rely on fall short and we are left disillusioned. The heroes we create in our imagination or in popular fiction, to fill our need in our independence, are shown to be illusions.
What then are we left with? The pride of despair perhaps? Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die?
There is a better way, if we can but humble our pride and independence, and realise our true state. There is true hope, not based on immediate circumstances or in things, but on ancient promises.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 19 v19-21
Where is your heart? What really matters to you?
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
1 Corinthians 13 v13a
This is not the hope that promises a trouble-free blessed life, one of serene bliss and abundance of possession. Rather it is one that offers us, even in the midst of a pain-wracked, messed up and broken world, the hope of both a present and a future, the now and the not yet, with God, the author and perfecter of our faith, offering us true life, true peace and true abundance, if only we would turn away from ourselves and turn back to Him.
Hear the words of the Master Carpenter, Jesus Christ of Nazareth:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16 v33