For the last year we have needed hope like never before. We have struggled with a pandemic, increased deaths and disease, racial injustice, economic disruption, political turmoil, an attack on our capitol, and isolation from others. It has been hard to be hopeful in the midst of difficult times.
Yet God’s promise is clear. Reading the opening words of Romans 5 clarifies my situation:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but 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.
Faith and hope are tied together. Because I trust in God and who God is and what God does, I have confidence in the future. Hebrews 11:1 makes it clear as well— “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” Perhaps that is why 1 Corinthians 13 links “faith, hope and love” together as if they were inseparable. Properly understood, they are.
That is why Easter is such a powerful time of year. We all go through hard times, dark places and great difficulties. Some years are worse than others. We can understand the despair experienced by the disciples on Good Friday because we have at times been captured by despair and fears.
But Easter is coming and resurrection triumphs over death. That historic fact—Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! —gives us all the justification we need for an attitude of hope in the face of whatever the world throws at us.
Christianity does not deny the reality of evil, death, or destruction. We know those things exist. We also know that solutions, healing and resurrection do not always come as quickly as we wish. Yet, we have faith and hope in the face of all those difficulties. Romans 8 summarizes it well:
For in hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience... We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Faith, hope and love are dispositions of the heart that has been touched by God. I choose hope because of my faith and God’s love for me.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Scott J. Jones