This past Wednesday I attended a Zoom meeting with the bishop and rostered leaders from the Northern Illinois Synod. The floor was open for topics to discuss. One pastor lamented about how difficult it is to preach about hope in these challenging times… especially when he felt hopeless himself. So, the question is, where do we find hope?
I commented that sometimes I feel like a broken record when I preach, because I so often talk about the presence of the Holy Spirit within us that is there no matter what this life can throw at us! But honestly, especially with the events of the last two weeks, that’s sometimes feels elusive.
Maybe Paul to his letter to the church in Rome can say it better:
“…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Suffering… endurance… character… and then HOPE! You’ve heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” right? Well, it feels like we should either be dead or are the strongest people in the world! But as silly as that may sound, I think that’s the point. God never promised this life would be easy. In fact, God said just the opposite. When Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden, God said our lives are going to be hard. So, it’s normal then to experience suffering. So how do we get hope out of that? The passage says the way is endurance which produces character. When I was teaching school, one of my fellow teachers gave me a plaque that says, “Character is who you are when no one but God is watching.” Might I suggest that the character isn’t ours, but God’s? So, if we endure then look to God within us, there we will find hope. And the reason we find home is simply the fact that God is present with us no matter what! And when it comes our time to die, the hope becomes a beautiful fulfillment of God’s promise for eternity in a place that is perfect!
See you Sunday!