Hope, Hope, and More Hope

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I know many people who were glad to see Old Man Last Year kicked to the curb by Baby New Year. Only the new kid on the block doesn’t know when to stop, and a lot of fine folks are getting kicked in the teeth. Not a day has gone by in this new year when I’ve not received some social media telling of a friend in distress.

Every now and then, I get afflicted by an earworm that will not relent. I think the one reverberating in my head day after day so far this year has a message for us all.

I’ve got my hope set high
That’s why I came tonight
I need to see the truth
I need to see the light

I’ve got my hope set high
That’s why I came tonight
I need to see the truth
I need to see the light
And I can do my best
And pray to the Father
But the one thing I ought to know by now

When it all comes down
When it all comes down
If there’s anything good that happens in life
It’s from Jesus

I’ve got my hope set high
And like a star at night
Out of the deepest dark
It shines the purest light

I’ve got my hope set high
Beyond the wrong and right
I need to see the truth
I need to see the light
‘Cause I can do my best
And pray to the Father
But the one thing I ought to know by now

When it all comes down
When it all comes down
If there’s anything good that happens in life
It’s from Jesus

It’s hard to believe that song is 25 years old now, but regardless of its age, the message remains true.

I think people are desperate to hear a word of hope. Many go to church on Sunday and instead hear they need to try harder to be better Christians, that they’ve somehow not worked hard enough to be a good father, a good mother, a good child, a good neighbor, or a good person in general. Some inadequacy plagues them, some failure, some way in which they don’t measure up.

That’s the gist of the Law, but that’s not the Gospel.

This is the Gospel: Jesus came so that people can stop striving to be good, to lay down trying to measure up, to stop looking for hope in a message to try harder. No, we can’t do anything to make it better for ourselves, and hope never lies in trying.

Instead, Jesus did it all for us. He was good when we could not (and cannot) be. He measured up when we fell (and will fall) short. No matter how badly we miss(ed) the mark in the past, present, or future, He is never inadequate, and He never fails.

It is for this reason that we have hope.

You and I get enough hopelessness living in an age when bad news sells and it’s immediate and pervasive.

But the Lord knew what He was doing when He created the Church, the unity of all those marked and filled by His Spirit. And part of that intent was for the Church to be the curator of hope.

My prayer for you and for everyone reading is to find hope in the assembly of the people who name Jesus as Lord. Because Jesus dwells in the midst of such people.

For this new year upon us, my prayer and desire is for Christians everywhere to speak hope where there has been no hope before. Light in Darkness. Comfort amid Pain.

Because people everywhere are carrying superhuman burdens, and they don’t need more added.

Hope, hope and more hope. That’s what we all need. And that hope comes from—and is found only in—Jesus. Fellow believers, let us make it our mission to be His vessels of hope at a time when more people crave hope than ever before.

…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
—Ephesians 2:12-22 ESV

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