Have you noticed in the past 12-18 months the number of reports dealing with mental health problems people are facing?
The virus has not only taken a toll on us physically and affected our economy and politics but also impacted us emotionally and psychologically.
One survey showed that 51% of young adults say they feel down, depressed, or hopeless.
Another survey found that 40% of all Americans have reported some mental health issues related to the pandemic. And 11% had considered suicide.
If you simply google “hopelessness” you will find an incredible amount of material relating to discouragement, depression, and despondency.
Furthermore, pastors, preachers, and church leaders relate how the pandemic has not only affected church attendance, but the overall ministry of the church.
So, as we consider, our theme for this year, “Let’s Renew in ‘22,” it’s apparent that we all need a reminder and renewal of our hope.
The late Dr. Charles R. Snyder was known as a pioneer in hope research and author of The Psychology of Hope. In it, he wrote that hope has three components: “goals, agency, and pathways.”
The Bible reveals that God offers us those three components.
#1 We have a hope that transcends this life.
Hope is desire plus expectation. It’s possible to desire something but have no reasonable expectation of receiving it. But it’ also possible to receive something that you don’t desire. The apostle Paul, even in the midst of persecution, trial and imprisonment, could affirm that he possessed a hope in which he was confident (Phil. 1:20).
He called it a “good hope “ (2 Thess. 2:16), because it is given to us by God’s grace.
He called it a “better hope” (Heb. 7:6). Not only is it better than what people experienced under the Old Covenant, but vastly better than any earthly hope we could imagine.
He called it a “blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13), because it is symbolized in the Son of God who came to earth to offer us this hope.
The apostle Peter further described it as a “living hope” (1Pet. 1:3), because of Jesus resurrection from the death. He offers us victory over sin, death and the devil, and the hope of eternal life.
We have something worth living for. A better home. A better body. And a better life.
#2 We have the agency to this hope.
“The God of hope” has provided us the ability to shape our lives and fill us with faith, joy, and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13). Human means and methods often fail or fall far short of our needs and expectations. Divine agency never fails.
Our hope is the “anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19). It is sure. Steadfast. And realizable,
Our hope is supported by the conviction and assurance of our faith for which we have ample evidence (Heb. 11:1).
#3 We have the pathway to pursue the promise of our hope.
“The hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23) has been revealed to us in understandable language to offer guidance and direction (Eph. 3:3-5). The Word teaches us. Reproves us. Corrects us. Instructs us. And equips us (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
We’ve been provided Divine counsel by which we can live in hope, sustain our hope, meet obstacles with hope, and face death with hope.
Our “one hope (Eph. 4:4), as Colly Caldwell reminds us in his Ephesians commentary “involves unity of aspiration, purpose, and goals…Our hope causes us as Christians to endure persecution, face crises, and remain faithful…”
Now, more than ever, we need a renewal and revival of our hope. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman