Hope

Truth be told, we are all afraid of the dark.
It varies of course from person or person, but if the darkness is thick enough, cold enough, menacing enough, it will get to us. Jesus said evil people preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil. And that’s why we fear the dark—someone evil is out there in the dark lying in wait for the innocent—for people like us!

Who can say how much of our country’s economy is spent on keeping back the darkness—not just in streets and buildings and alleyways and sidewalks, but also the darkness of ignorance and injustice, of addiction and avarice, of crime and corruption?

Whatever it costs, it is worth it. The contrast between light and dark is so readily seen that we use the words as metaphors for righteousness and wickedness, for truth and deception.

Taking imagery a step further we speak of hope as light and despair as darkness. Hope, like a beam of light, splits the thick darkness of the moment. It illumines the steps we must take today and tomorrow showing clearly the hazards choking the dark path before us. Hope is the brightening sky in the east that signals then end of a long and dangerous night.

Jesus, the Light of the World
Of course this ever-present Hope has a name—Jesus, the Light of the World, the Hope of the world. My favorite biblical poet, Isaiah, describes the Hope Messiah brings: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great Light.” Not some flickering glimmer, but a steady beam that breaks through the fog of confusion, melts the clouds of gloom and sadness and fills us with the light of Day.

Breaking this personal light out of any basket we may have put it in, we can be fearless—“Arise! Shine! For Your Light has come! Darkness covers the Earth and deep gloom engulfs the peoples but the Lord will rise upon you.”

The psalmist trumpets the character of God with these words, “The hope of the poor will not be taken away.”

To say there is no darkness is itself darkness.
Darkness is real. Darkness is dangerous. But the Christ-follower has light within and without, a heart-light to illumine the soul and a lamp and lantern for the steps ahead. Every window of the soul we open to the Lord will be filled with light. He is not stingy with it. It is His nature—Truth, Power, Love—all in motion through the window into our darkened space. More sure than the sunrise that chases shadows across the face of the earth, His light streams to us in mercy and peace.

Scriptures:
1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Titus 2:11-14 NIV
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem u s from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Isaiah 9:2 NIV
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 60:1-3 NIV
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
1 John 3:2-3 NIV
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Just as clouds may hide the sun but not remove it from the sky, circumstances may darken the day before me. But circumstances, no matter how dark, can never remove Your presence from my life. Just as the sun is fixed as the center of our planetary system, You are fixed at the center of my life; everything I have, everything I am, revolves around You. You give me light and life and, above all, hope. Like the obedient earth, tilted somewhat but spinning on its axis and unceasing it its journey around the sun, I will spin out my dreams today and run my course as You have laid it out for me. Thank You Lord, for this hope secure! Amen.

Song:
The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When Darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

3. His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.

Refrain

4. When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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