by Alex Hardt, Associate Pastor – Youth and Young Adults
“But God”—he was driven by his own rich mercy and great love. That’s good stuff right there. God is “rich in mercy.” He doesn’t just have mercy—he has mercy with all kinds of layers. Mercy that knows no end. Mercy in abundance. The Bible says that mercy triumphs over judgment. – Judah Smith
54 percent of young adults said they don’t believe their standard of living will be better than their parents’ when they get to be their parents’ age. – Biz Journal
Papa Dennis, a gospel singer says, “I see many good and great things happening next year.”
79 percent of all respondents said they worry either some or a lot about having enough money when they retire. – Biz Journal
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, “My guiding belief is that we will only master the challenges of our time if we stick together and collaborate with others across borders.”
More than two-thirds of Americans are stressed about the future of the country, according to the American Psychological Association – The Washington Post.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nation Secretary General, said, “International collaboration remains the best hope to combat issues like climate change and political division, which are getting harder to solve.”
The second leading cause of death among College Students is suicide, and depression has steadily increased – CDC.
HOPE AT ODDS
One-minute things are going great and our hope rises, then things start going bad and we immediately feel a sense of despair overwhelm us. We feel a sense of anxiety as things start to unfold in ways that we didn’t intend. For many of us we worry about our family, our well-being, the future, and what may or may not happen. The Atlantic cites a recent study that one of the main reasons for the rise in depression isn’t finances, or job, or grades but is because of LACK OF PURPOSE/MEANING & HOPE!
Hope and despair seem to be fickle things that we can never hold on to. Almost as fickle as what our favorite food or which candy, we like best or who’s our favorite YouTuber.
But is Hope really fickle?
- Lamentations 3:21-23 tells us that if our hope is placed in the Lord it is steadfast. That if our hope is in God then it will never fail or fall apart. God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. “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.”
- Psalm 73:26 tells us how the world will fail us. That whatever we desire in this world will not sustain us. So yes, Hope is fickle when it’s based upon worldly things. Our hope will fluctuate with the rollercoaster of life. “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
As we begin to navigate 2019, we should consider what we can do to make the world a place where our friends, family and community can fully embrace living, and all the hope that comes with it. When God came to this earth it was to give us hope. This hope that we discover as followers of Christ should then be shared with those around us, so they too may have hope.
- Ephesians 2:1-5 reminds us of the dichotomy of Hope. A hope that is placed in the world versus a hope that is placed in God. Hope in the world leaves us dead while hope in God is everlasting, never ending, and always life giving. It’s a hope that is found in us, through us, and around us because of who God is and what He has done for us.
“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!).
Practically Speaking About Hope
Let’s be honest some of us are better wired to deal with despair, stress, and anxiety than others (I am not one of them). Some of us naturally lean into to the hope that God has for us while some us resist it like the black plague or seasonal flu. But all of us can choose hope and we can always grow in hope. Here are some practical tools to grow in hope!
- Deal with Ambiguity
a. The past can feel secure while the future can feel ambiguous–and it makes us forget that we’ve dealt with the unknown before and overcame it.
b. Write down your past and present encounters with ambiguity: what’s happening, where was God in all of it, and what was the result of it all.
- Dream Bigger Dreams
a. Our capacity to imagine an outcome is usually determined by our understanding of the potential within one. We have a finite understanding of what is to come, so why not tap into the One whose understanding is infinite?
b. Read God’s word daily and I promise you will begin to dream bigger dreams. Hope is not longer attainable but it’s practically impossible to resist.
- Turn “I can’t” into “He Can”
a. Wouldn’t you agree that many of our issues come from wanting control–control over what happens next, how it happens, and how I’ll react in the moment? Letting go and letting God take control seems to make a lot more sense.
b. I do this by beginning and ending my day with a prayer of surrender. One of my favorites is the Serenity Prayer. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
What I hope you hear is that hope is a choice and where we derive that hope from is a choice too.
So, what are you going to choose? A hope that is as fickle as your choice of candy or a hope that is steadfast. A hope built on an ever-changing world or a hope built on the rock-solid foundation of God.