Reflections ~ The Power of Hope

April 22, 2013

Though most of his family died under the demonic persecution of the Nazis, Elie Wiesel survived the Holocaust. Elie went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to turn the world from a place of hatred into a realm of righteousness. Viktor Frankl, a Viennese psychiatrist before World War II, survived Auschwitz. Years later he wrote the book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In the concentration camp he discovered that the prisoners who often survived were not the ones who were strongest physically, but the ones who had hope. Hope is one of the most essential, but least valued attributes of a healthy person.

Jesus said in the last days wickedness would increase and the love of most people would grow cold. (Matt. 24:12) In our time bombers, murderers and deceivers have spread waves of despair throughout society. In the face of wickedness many people stop loving their neighbor. This creates a great opportunity for those who have been filled with the Spirit of Christ. Our love comes from God and does not diminish when people are suffering. His love gives us compassion and enables us to overcome evil with good.

Our hearts break when tragedies happen, or when someone we love dies, but our sadness does not last forever. We do not despair in the face of evil, because we have the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead living inside of us. Jesus defeated death itself. The Spirit of God does not leave us when bad things happen. He gives us hope that we can overcome evil, because “Greater is he who is within us than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).

I was talking recently with Ray Johnson, the pastor of Bayside Church in Granite Bay, CA. Ray was a youth pastor in Marin County when I was leading the Novato Open Door Church. This Easter, Bayside had 31,000 people attending services in their campuses around Sacramento. As we talked, I could sense Ray’s great leadership gift. I asked him how he stays healthy with all the pressures he faces. Ray said that the key thing he wants to give people is hope. If people have hope they can overcome any challenge. The ability to inspire hope is a gift from God.

Napoleon said “Leaders are dealers in hope.” Those who inspire hope in others can lead them into war, like Napoleon and the Nazis, or into God’s Kingdom, like Jesus and the apostles. I do not have hope that I’m going to wake up one morning looking more handsome or being stronger. Our hope is not dependent on what some dictator, terrorist, or politician does. The Bible teaches that God’s Kingdom will continue to advance. We pray and believe His will is going to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This hope does not make us passive in the face of evil, but active in advancing God’s Kingdom every way we possibly can.

We all face heartache and pain in life. However, if we trust God and do his will, we will inherit the eternal glory He has prepared for us. One day we will move permanently into the Kingdom of heaven. God will then make everything we have suffered insignificant compared to the glory we will experience. 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 (Rom. 15:13).

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