Pastoral Perspectives

There Is A Hope

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, there are two main characters – Andy and Red. They were able to survive the notorious prison life by clinging on to hope. Andy gets out of prison first and leaves a letter for Red, who is finally freed. When Red mustered up the courage to acclimatize back to society after spending 40 years in prison, he went to retrieve the letter. The letter contains the famous line, “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” The dictionary defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.”

All of us hope in one thing or the other. This week, all parents of children taking their PSLE are hoping that their child will do well in their PSLE; hoping that their child will stay alert and read the questions carefully. For some, we are hoping in a miracle- healing of our loved ones. For many of us, we are hoping that the number of the COVID positive cases will drop soon. All of us are hoping that this pandemic will be over soon. The list goes on.

The writer of the song “There is a Hope” Stuart Townend writes, “We all have hopes and dreams, whether we are Christians or not, and these are often the driving forces in our lives. We hope to arrive at a certain place, to achieve certain goals, maybe financial or career-related, and we all hope the best for other people, perhaps our children or our close friends. These things can of course be great things to hope and pray for, but they remain hopes precisely because we never know for certain whether they will be fulfilled or not. They are tinged with uncertainty, and we do not know what lies around the corner.

Christian hope, however, is very different. When the Bible talks about hope, it talks about something that is certain, and can perhaps be broken down into two different certainties. The first is that no matter where we go and what we do in this life, God will be with us, and He will love us. The second is that when this life is over, we will not perish but will spend eternity at home with Christ. These certainties remain ‘hopes’ not because they may or may not come to fruition, but because they haven’t been fully realised yet – the second because we are still living this life on earth, and the first because there are and will be trials in which it might not be obvious that God is by our side. These certain hopes put everything in our lives into perspective, and we can live by faith on the solid and certain hope that Christ gives us.” (https://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/song/there-is-a-hope/)

Romans 5:1-3 says, ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings…’  we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God even in our sufferings because of Christ the hope of heaven.

Like Andy and Red, we live in this world filled with many sorrows and uncertainties. Like being in a prison, we may feel caged by many things that are not within our control. We hope and pray for a better world without wars, famine, pandemics, all kinds of diseases, pain and suffering etc. As believers, we know that in this side of prison, we will continue to suffer the consequences of sin. But the good news is that it comes with an expiry date; we will be released from this prison. It will all end one day. While we wait for that day, we continue to live with a different outlook; not like those who have no hope, but as believers who have tasted a ‘glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part’. Looking forward to something gives us strength to live each day.

As Stuart mentions, we will not know for sure if our earthly hopes will ever come true. As soon as it is safe to fly, many of us hope to be reconnected with our loved ones. Will all our loved ones make it till then? We do not know. Separation from loved ones can plunge us into despair but we know that as believers, we can hope for our ultimate reunion when Christ returns. The pandemic is not the only thing happening around us. Life goes on with all its ups and downs. But Jesus has given us the assurance that we can trust and hope in him. John 16:33 reminds us, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

As believers, our hope is unlike any other hope that the world has to offer. Our hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and will come again. One day, all the sufferings and sorrows of the world will die when we finally behold His face. Until then, let us cling on to this hope and continue to share with others the famous strain – There is a HOPE!

There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for every passing day;
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven;
And Christ in me, the hope of heaven!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
To make His will my home.

There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.

There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
And every longing satisfied.
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home.

(Stuart Townend & Mark Edwards/Copyright © 2007 Thankyou Music)


Ps Loliro Sani

October 3, 2021