By the time you read this article, I will be, together with my whole family, on our way to Philippines. Our flight will be on July 3. But, the most significant thing is, beginning July 1st, we will be joining the Global Methodist Church. Gladbrook UMC will now be Gladbrook Methodist Church. Thus, in this article, I would like us to consider hope as we look forward to the new season of our life together as a Body of Christ.
The secular world defines hope as “that confidence that our problems will be solved in one way or another.” Once hope is gone, people may end up in any of these three scenarios: insanity, suicide, or running amok.
We are bombarded with so many hopeless news. Chuck Swindoll, noted author and preacher, states: ”We can rebound against wind and weather, calamity and tragedy, disease and death, so long as we have our hope. We can live weeks without food, days without water, and even several minutes without air, but take away our hope and within only few seconds, we toss in the towel!” (Charles R. Swindoll, Stress Fractures, England: Multnomah Press, 1990, p.211).
Tomorrow is uncertain, but what keeps us going is hope. I would like to share two principles that would stir real hope in our hearts as we navigate the challenges of receiving the gift of new identity and new ministries as a result of our disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church.
Principle #1: Our trust should be in God alone, not in anything else or anyone else or structure or organization. Psalm 33:16-17, and 118:8-9 provide us a clarity on this:
16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might, it cannot rescue.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Our hope should be in God because all other foundations prove uncertain. People and things will never give us real hope in all the challenges, difficulties or problems we face or may face. But in God, hope is certain to be satisfied.
CHRISTIAN HOPE is that trust that God will pull us through our pains, struggles and challenges. However, a relationship is needed before we can ever hope in God. We can only have hope in Him when He is first “OUR FATHER.”
Trusting in institutions can be rather frustrating thing as what happened in many instances and occasions, just like what is happening with the United Methodist Church and any religious institution.
TRUSTING in God, however, produces real hope that is certain to be satisfied.
This is exactly what happened to a woman counseled by Chuck Swindoll. The woman was bent on committing suicide with a revolver in her hand. Many things had happened in her life. Her husband left her. Her two-month-old daughter died recently. She had a friend who died in an automobile accident. She had advanced leukemia. She had nothing to cling on to.
Not until Swindoll pointed her to Jesus Christ as her only source of hope. After her counseling session, she had, “HE (Jesus) has given me new hope…the one thing I really needed.” I’m confidently sure that God met her needs.
Principle #2: Our hope must be based on Scriptures. Otherwise, our hope in God will be vague, confusing and even uncertain. Scriptures must be the foundation of our hope in God.
7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings….
This shows us that God is aware of the sufferings of His people and that He is going to do something about it.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This assures us that God seeks our good. Because of this promise, we can be sure that life will eventually take a good turn though storms may come.
2 Timothy 4:16-18
16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was res-cued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
This teaches us that God will be there tomorrow. We know that God will not leave us alone to our uncertainties or struggles. He will either deliver us or supply us His grace. The solutions may not necessarily be the kind of solutions we want, but nevertheless, they are better because it is God’s solutions.
Remember what John Wesley said: “The best thing of all is God is with us.”
Welcome to our new beginning!