One morning I woke up and realized what my job description is – it all boils down to this: it’s to love people and to be a dealer in hope. I figure that’s pretty counter-culture, don’t you? I’m not hearing too much talk about hope or love right now. I am hearing people dealing in fear, and distrust, and discord.
Everywhere I go throughout my day I encounter people looking for something or someone to give them hope. Wherever I show up I seek to bring hope, whether it’s at the gym, the grocery store, a hospital room, the ER, a rehab center, your home, my office, pre-surgery, a coffee shop – wherever I meet with people. We all need a daily infusion of hope especially in our current culture. I tell people they can borrow hope from me when they need to. Sometimes we simply can’t do it for ourselves. That’s why we need other people walking with us.
Have I always been a hopeful person? No! Years ago I started making a list of my fears, and I had to stop because the list was getting so long it was too depressing! We are hoping and longing for many different things – acceptance, healing, joy, reconciliation, peace, forgiveness, debt relief, grace, belonging, mercy, shelter, health, comfort, security. The list is endless. What are you hoping for? And to whom are you turning to find hope?
In the midst of life what voices are you listening to? What or who are you allowing to drown out the still small voice of the Spirit? Saturate yourself in the voices of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not the current cacophony. Listen to God’s words of hope and faith, shalom and reconciliation, peace and love, forgiveness and grace. Be counter culture and build bridges not walls. Be dealers in hope not fear.
For God so loved the world – that includes everyone – that he sent Jesus. God created everyone. God loves everyone! Not just the people I find it easy to love and like, but also the people who are different from me, the people I don’t think I have anything in common with. And the people I don’t like but I’m called to love, with the love of Jesus.
I realize how I can be put off so easily by how someone looks, and I quickly assume they wouldn’t want to talk to me even if I approached them. But I know everyone has a story and people are longing for someone to listen to their story, to stop and take notice and not walk by on the other side of the street. A few years ago when I was visiting my Mum in Exeter, England, I had a conversation with a young man who was sleeping under the railway bridge a few minutes from her home. He was homeless and explained to me how difficult it is for young people to get housing. On that occasion I came back to give him some money in the hopes that he would find shelter at least for a night. Two weeks ago I saw a woman sleeping in the downtown Bellevue post office. I didn’t speak to her, but I’m still pondering how Jesus would have wanted me to respond to her. Over the years that I’ve served at BelPres I’ve become aware of a steady stream of women needing transitional housing. How would Jesus want us to respond to this growing need in our own community?
As you go through your day, be counter-culture and bring hope into every situation that you encounter, into every conversation that you enter. Don’t join in the chorus of “the sky is falling!” No, Jesus Christ is risen! Our hope is not in the stock market, or the US or in our own efforts to make our lives turn out the way we want. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace, and the fact that Jesus Christ was willing to be downwardly mobile and sink to earth to become one of us. And then he was willing to die a criminal’s death instead of you and me. And God the Father brought Jesus back to life! Jesus longs to teach us how to live love, and how to bring HOPE to all people, for today and tomorrow, and for eternity. The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Meditate on these passages from the Bible to increase your own daily supply of hope so that you have some to share with others:
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.