It’s easy to look back and see that 2008 was a difficult year. The economy is on everyone’s mind; each day brings news of more corporate scandals and massive employee layoffs. But 2009 is upon us and with the new year comes a blank slate, a fresh opportunity. The start of the new year is one of the most hopeful times of the year. There’s a certain freshness in the air right now. Resolutions are being made, commitments are being renewed.
As we turn the page on a brand new year, our prayer is that the upcoming year would be one of hope. Yes, we find ourselves in hard times, but these present difficulties only serve to underscore even more fully the richness of the Gospel message for us. As God’s Word tells us, nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even the hard circumstances of this life. The message of the Gospel is that life is ours in Christ, no matter the circumstances.
With that in mind, may we devote ourselves in 2009 to making this new year a year of hope. May we be strengthened by the great hope we have in Christ. And may this hope intersect our lives…..
I spent some time this week looking at different texts that speak about the incredible hope that is ours in Christ. But I couldn’t help but notice how often hope is spoken of in conjunction with another core concept in Scripture. The biblical writers seem to understand that hope has this way of spilling over and making these intersections with other elements of the Christian life. Here are just a few of those intersections I came across:
1. The intersection of hope and joy
- Proverbs 10:28 – The hope of the righteous brings joy… What is the hope of the righteous? The righteous man wants the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Untold joy is found in the passionate pursuit of the righteous reign of God.
- Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. I’ve somehow missed this passage over the years. But this is such a powerful Word. God is the author of hope, the source of hope. And God’s Spirit is powerful to unleash hope in us, for us. He works to fill us with “abounding hope.” He places hope in our hearts, so that we may know true joy.
2. The intersection of hope and faith
- 1 Cor. 13:13 – Now these three abide: faith, hope, love. These three seem to be bound together. Paul is identifying the core components of the Christian life. His point is that the greatest of these is love, but hope and faith are significant, too.
- 1 Peter 1:21 – Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Christian faith and hope are rooted in the resurrection of Christ. Through faith in Christ, our hope for life beyond death is actualized. Which leads to yet another intersection…
3. The intersection of hope and life
- 1 Peter 1:3 – According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection stands head and shoulders above the other miracles of God in the Scriptures. The God of creation is also the God of new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). As an act of incredible mercy, God births a living hope within me by raising me to new life in baptism.
In the year to come, amid all our fears and anxieties, may we find all the small and unexpected intersections hope makes in our lives. Or, as N.T. Wright puts it, may we find ourselves “surprised by hope”.