when hope is gone

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three…

1 Corinthians 13:13a

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

Hope is a basic of human life. It’s looking forward to good, and more than that, it’s living with the idea that our lives matter, that there’s a good end.

Suicide prevention involves helping people get on track to find hope as in a reason to not end life, to live, that somehow there’s something good about carrying on.

In Scripture hope is included with faith and love. Those of us in the Christian tradition and familiar with Scripture will readily see the importance of faith and love, but hope might not often occur to us, if at all. But there it is, right beside faith and love. So it is important.

Central to hope is that God is working to bring good to all, to the world. Of course we can and do resist God’s working, even when oftentimes we are not conscious of doing so. But God continues that work, nonetheless.

Hope is short, medium, and long term; even with reference to the past in the thought of the redemption of all things, the present so that day to day we can find good, and the future, ultimately in the return of Christ when all is made right and new.

This is not some fantasy, nothing more than in our dreams. But for the real world, with all its difficulties, conundrums and even tragedies. Somehow in the midst of all of that, the hope we find in God is to help us not only survive, but live in the victory of Christ which paradoxically means for us now a resurrected life in the way of death, in the way of the cross, in the true following of Christ. Looking forward to the complete healing to come.

In and through Jesus.

trusting God moment by moment

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

Psalm 62

It is one of the hardest yet most important things we can do, to seek to live in the moment in dependence on and rest in God. There are so many factors which make this challenging. We can be weighed down by past failure, present circumstances, and seemingly dim future prospects. Of course if we’re just looking at the troubles apart from faith, then we’re sure to be overcome with fear or whatever we do to deal with such situations ourselves. But when we turn to God with the determination to trust and obey in the moment by God’s grace just as the psalmist does, we’ll find God’s help. And hopefully we’ll become more and more steady, as we learn to find our rest in him. In and through Jesus.

taking an inventory of one’s life

This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

2 Corinthians 13:1-10

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” These words from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church echo down the corridors of time all the way to us. 2 Corinthians was written in large part to get the Corinthian church back on track, as many were being influenced by false teachers within the church. We may think we live in a different day and age, but if we pay closer attention, we’ll know better. 

One of the big problems we face is the same problem that church faced: we fail to take with sufficient seriousness the message of God’s word, the exact teaching. And when we do that, there is a rationale behind it probably that makes sense to us at the time, and we’re carried away into something other than God’s will.

It is crucial to pay close attention to God’s word and to our own lives, both. The message and teaching of God’s word is meant to impact our lives, no less. But in order for that to happen, we need to prayerfully go over our lives, especially being attentive to what God might be wanting to teach us now while also being open to how we might better process the past as we receive God’s redemptive healing. The point here is that we need to examine ourselves, of course to see if we’re in the faith, yes. And also to understand so as to truly practice our faith day to day in every circumstance so that we might not only recognize Christ in us, but that others may as well. In and through Jesus.



Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s creed he composed shortly before his execution

I believe that God can and will generate good out of everything, even out of the worst evil. For that, he needs people who allow that everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.

I believe that God will give us in each state of emergency as much power of resistance as we need. But he will not give in advance, so that we do not rely on ourselves but on Him alone. Through such faith all anxiety concerning the future should be overcome.

I believe that even our mistakes and failings are not in vain, and that it is not more difficult for God to cope with these as with our assumed good deeds.

I believe that God is not a timeless fate, but that He waits for and responds to honest prayers and responsible action.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quoted by Philip Yancey, The Question That Never Goes Away

living in the now

All too often I get caught up either in the past or the future. What is past is past. We can learn from it, and surely must, and hopefully we have repented of many things. And the future is beyond us. While there is nothing wrong with planning, in fact we want to invest well, especially in that which is spiritual, we don’t know what a day may bring. We don’t know the future. What God calls us to and Jesus taught us is to learn to live in the now.

Of course we do so with thanksgiving for the past and future salvation that is ours in Jesus. But we do so as those who live in the present, even the present salvation we are receiving in and through Jesus. With all of our weakness and sins we must confess. And yet we go on, finding God’s forgiveness and new life in Christ.

We share this ongoing life with others in Jesus. It is a life of developing and maturing together into the image of the one we follow. We grow up together in and through Jesus. That is not done well by ourselves. We need each other in this shared life. Even to work through our differences and the bumps and metaphorical bruises that come in any relationship. To love and listen and pray for each other. To offer words of encouragement as well as heartfelt counsel, when need be.

There is plenty to batter one’s self about when considering the past. And there is plenty to keep us awake at night when considering the future. But none of that will help us one iota. Instead we need to learn to live well in the present. Learning to keep our eyes on Jesus as we live together in him as a witness of God’s love for the world.

in the now

Life is lived “in the now.” The past is past, there’s nothing we can do about it. On the other hand we can learn from it. And in Jesus we live on what God has done in Jesus through his death and resurrection. One sacrifice, once for all, for all time. Neither can we live in the future. We’re not to worry about the troubles that may come our way tomorrow. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, since each day has enough trouble of its own. On the other hand in Jesus we live the future now. God’s grace and kingdom is present in Jesus here and now, so we begin to live that reality, even in the midst of the world, the flesh and the devil.

I think God wants us to work at being totally present to him first, and then to others around us. We’re to learn to live life fully “in the now.” We don’t know what the next day will bring, or for that matter, even the next moment. Of course part of living well in the now is to think ahead, as well as with reference to the past. But we can’t redo the past or live in the future. We can only live one day at a time. Some days in great difficulties, but our orientation as humans includes time, space and matter.* And that will always be the case, true in the age to come as we consider the resurrection and the new heaven and new earth.

This is how God’s Spirit will help us live. Yes, not without struggles sometimes, maybe oftentimes. But we always are to endeavor to give ourselves in love to God, and then to each other with all that involves, day after day, moment after moment. Yes, in the now.

This is a slippery subject, maybe so especially to me at times, and why I’m trying to write on it this morning. What might you like to share on this from what you have learned in life?

*Not that I think time, space and matter will be precisely in continuity with the present time in the age to come, nor in discontinuity for that matter.