Romans 15:13 (NRSV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Last week I was privileged to lead a Lenten mini-retreat, “Journey to the Wilderness.” The participants enriched my faith as they shared their personal stories of their own “wilderness” times. Some of the experiences were heart-breaking and painful. But in every one of them, these friends described how they felt God’s loving help; how they saw God make good come from very difficult times.
I think that, for Christians, one of our most defining qualities is our hopefulness. We have this hope that comes from knowing that Jesus can redeem everything. This hope that grows each time we trust and watch for the good God will bring from hardships. This hope that rises from being graciously forgiven each time we stumble (or completely fall). This hope that deepens as we experience God’s healing love repeatedly throughout our lives. This hope in life eternal when we finally leave our earthly bodies.
One doesn’t have to be Christian in order to be a really good person. I have seen true compassion, humility and kindness in self-giving people who question the very idea of God. As people of faith, our compassion, humility and kindness are rooted in hope- and our desire to share that hope we have in Christ. It is hope beyond worldly hope. It is hope that helps us to make sense of life and our purpose in it. It is eternal hope. It is infinite hope. It is beyond-comprehension hope. It is that “joy and peace in believing, so that we may abound in hope by the Holy Spirit” hope!
Today our Lenten focus is hopefulness. So many people desperately need hope today. How might we let others know of the One in whom we receive ours? What stories might we tell of the times we found God’s hope in the darkness? How might we lovingly help them, so that they may experience this hope as well?
Our reminder symbol today is a candle. May the candle remind us to be a hopeful light for those in the darkness. May we brighten someone’s day with God’s redeeming love… and the eternal hope that we have received from experiencing this amazing love.
God of our hope,
Through Jesus you have shown us your power to redeem everything, even death. In our own lives you have shown us your power to heal, restore and bless. You have given us incredible hope for this day and for all days yet to come. Help us to share your love today, but also to share the hope we have in you. May we abound in hope through your Holy Spirit! Amen.