The God of Hope
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The God of Hope

During Holy Week, Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire. An 800 year-old symbol of Western Civilization and Christianity burned down as we watched.  While the fire at Notre Dame was still being investigated as an accident, at least three other historic churches in France have fallen victim to arson in the past year.

The church fires are a visible reminder of what we already sense--Christianity is under attack in a powerful way.  As Christianity retreats in Europe, Western Civilization is disappearing.  And, closer to home, traditional American values have basically been extinguished. Everywhere we look, there are massive upheavals that are upending life as we have known it and creating new challenges and difficulties.

As we grapple with these world events, we also grapple with events closer to home.  Where is the hope for a young mother who is widowed and alone with her children?  Where is the hope for children who have lost their father?  How do we express to hurt and suffering people--going through illness, loss, financial crisis, abandonment, or whatever else they may be experiencing--that faith in Jesus is not only AN answer, it is The Answer.

A couple of years ago I read Andy Andrews , "The Little Things."  While I could recommend the book on many different levels, and I have purchased copies for many people I know, one thing that really stands out about this book is Andy Andrews' chapter on perspective.  Perspective, Andrews writes, is the only thing that can completely change the results without changing any of the facts.  No matter what is going on around us, we can choose our perspective and that perspective can change everything else.
A key element in maintaining perspective through hard times is hope.  Without hope, we have no reason to believe that anything will get better, we have no reason to fight through our problems, we have nothing to believe in and nothing to work toward. 
The Bible ascribes many names to God, but perhaps one of the most important and yet often overlooked, is "The God of Hope."  "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."  Romans 15:13.

Ephesians 2:12 reminds us that those who do not know the Lord are "without God and without hope."  The people around us--those who know the Lord and those who don't--need to be reminded that we serve the God of Hope.  He is the one who repairs what is broken, who restores what is ruined, who heals hearts and minds, and renews and restores.  Nothing is so difficult or damaged or ruined that it is out of His reach or beyond His ability to repair.

Perhaps that is why Peter 3:15 reminds us to always have a ready answer for anyone who asks about the hope that is in us.  When people around us want to know why we can hope in hopeless situations, we can tell them that we have hope because our hope is in the Living God who died once for all.

Our feature book this month is The Warrior--the story of one mother whose prayers change the life of a young man she has never met.  The story reminds us that we never give up hope--for our loved ones, for the lost, for those we pray for and for those whom we have an ability to impact with our lives.  The hope that we share with the world around us can change lives, futures and families.

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