Psalm 66:8-20, 1 Peter 1:3-5; 3:13-22
I have heard it said many times, ”Human beings can live for 40 days without food, 4 days without water and 4 minutes without air but they cannot live 4 seconds without hope.” I am not sure about the accuracy of the math in that statement but the sentiment behind it is on target. Hope is the belief that things can and will get better. It is the desire for positive things to happen, for dreams to become reality. Hope is important. It is it is endemic to the human condition and is necessary not just for thriving but surviving.
In search for guidance and answers toward realizing hope, they observe signs, knowingly or unconsciously, but at times find or produce signs to give them hope but inadvertently give them the wrong answers. How so, you ask. Have you ever seen signs like the following: meant to be a prank although potentially leaving incorrect messages for those who truly seek hope?
– Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help!
– God expects spiritual fruit not religious nuts
– Knock, knock. Who is there? Jesus. Who? Exactly
– Do you know what hell is? Come hear our preacher!
Truth is we have a sign for nearly everything – signs to clarify, signs for directions – signs, signs, signs… I find it interesting that a recent sociology study found that most signs are ignored. Speed limit signs, no parking signs, and stop signs – and sadly, handicap signs. But there is one sign that is almost always noticed/followed – Out of Order.
None of us like to see an Out of Order sign. It is frustrating to be thirsty and find the drink machine is out of order. Even more frustrating is to be on a trip in need of a restroom and find it out of order. But what about when life is out of order. Truth is we expect life to function in order – and when we do the right things, we expect right results. Yet some-times we can do everything right and things to turn out every-way wrong. Have you ever felt like an area in your life was out of order? Have you ever felt like someone hung an Out of Order sign around your marriage, parenting, career, or health?
– Husband/Wife – have you tried to do everything right, yet your spouse still walked out?
– Parent – did you raise your kids to know Jesus and do right, yet they have still made poor choices?
– Work – have you worked at being a good employee only to get fired/laid off?
– Health – did you eat right, exercise, and follow your doctor’s orders yet you still received a difficult diagnosis?
You might not realize it, but how we respond to those moments when life gives us lemons or throws us a curveball or for a loop MATTERS. Do we radiate Christ or repudiate His name? Do we glow for God or groan our issues? . When something glows, it emits a steady radiance of light. In this epistle, Peter calls on Christians to emit the steady radiance of Christ in them into the world around them by calling us to a life submitted to Christ.
In 1 Peter 3:13-17 – Peter offers (4) guiding principles to help us get our lives into working order should we ever find our lives out of order/out of sync. Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this w/ gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil: RECOUNT Your Blessings; REJECT All Fear; REST in Your Relationship with God; SHARE Your Hope.
Yes, while hope can lead to disappointment, it is hope that leads us forward. It makes us willing to take risk and invest our lives in some great endeavor or in pursuit of some goal .Without hope people stop dreaming. They stop envisioning a better day, a better future. When they no longer envision a better day or successful outcome, they quit working to make things better. The most dangerous factor in a person’s life is a sense of hopelessness.
If hope is innately deep-rooted into our brain, then why do we lose it? Why do some people live without hope? Where does hopelessness come from? It comes from placing our hope, desire for something better, in the wrong place or the wrong person(s). Hopelessness sets in when our hope has been repeatedly disappointed. Hopelessness sets in when the basis of our hope, the object of our hope, has proven to be insufficient and false. Hope is dangerous when it is misplaced. A misplaced hope is a dead hope which is what so many are living with today. They hope for a better life, a better tomorrow, to be a new and better person, for peace and for an answer to the guilt and shame they carry inside themselves. Hope is vain because they often believe money and possessions will somehow fill the emptiness of their hearts and their desire for secure and better future; but it cannot. Money and possessions sprout wings and take flight (think of all that has happened in the last few weeks financially due to this COVID19) and with it their hopes, or once they have money, they realize what they were searching for still hasn’t been found.
That congenital presence of hope into our brains, that imprint of hope on our souls, is not due to natural selection or processes. It was placed there by God. I believe our hope for something better is the echo of something mankind lost long ago that is still rumbling in our souls from humanity walking away from God’s original design and intent for humanity. and our souls still long for when we rebelled against God’s design and did a deliberate belly-flop into the gutter of iniquity. When God created us, we were in perfect harmony with creation, with each other, within ourselves and more importantly with God. These are the very things we dream about. These are the things we hope for.
That is why all the things in this world, the things of this world, disappoint and make our hope seem irrational at times. Our hope only seems to be irrational because it is mis-placed. We think the things of this world can give to us what only can be found in God.
We are hardwired for hope and when our hope is in Jesus it will not disappoint. Hope in Jesus is not a dead or empty hope but a living hope. It lives because He lives. Today, we celebrate a living hope. It is my prayer that you have that hope, that you have the
salvation the Jesus Christ offers.