From March 22-27, the World Council of Churches is observing a week of prayer to mark one year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In solidarity with the Church around the world, will share their devotionals on Monday and Friday of this week.
13 But we always must thank God for you, brothers and sisters who are loved by God. This is because he chose you from the beginning to be the first crop of the harvest. This brought salvation, through your dedication to God by the Spirit and through your belief in the truth. 14 God called all of you through our good news so you could possess the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions we taught you, whether we taught you in person or through our letter. 16 Our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and a good hope. 17 May he encourage your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do or say.
‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast’ was written in 1732 by the poet Alexander Pope. It captures the profound instinct that dark and difficult times will pass. To hope is to anticipate, even expect that better days will come. More recently, others have shared their wisdom on this theme. Helen Keller said, ‘Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.’ Zig Ziglar said, ‘If there is hope in the future, there is power in the present.’ Nelson Mandela’s words are also timely, ‘May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.’ Hope is a bridge that helps us to journey from the difficulties of the present to a future that looks not only different but better.
Consequently, when hope is lessened or even destroyed, our spirits are crushed. Little wonder that hope is one of the central tenets of the Christian faith! For followers of Jesus Christ, “hope” is more than being optimistic or having a positive outlook on life. It is that and more, for our hope is anchored in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Our faith leads us to affirm that what we hold to as hope enables us to see beyond the current calamities, even beyond the ‘sting’ of death and to maintain that we are a ‘hope-filled’ Christian people.
We began our week with a prayer of all the varied expressions of lament, concern, intercession and gratitude, and throughout the week we’ve shared a thread of hope, a confidence that God is with us. Our God, who suffers with Creation, will continue to bring hope and healing. Paul’s prayer is our prayer that God, the source of hope, will fill us with joy, peace, and hope because we trust in the One who saves us. Our hope is rooted in God, not in outward circumstances – hope that is expressed in what we do and say. Christ’s people serving him, bringing hope where there is poverty and suffering. This is our active part in God’s mission.
For Pondering & Prayer
How has your hope been renewed during this year of pandemic? Are you able to put your trust in God and let God renew your hope, and bring you peace and joy? What is your active part in God’s mission?
Let us pray the prayer of hope renewed.
Prayer: God of hope, we pray to you to bring peace and hope to the hearts of all people, especially in communities where hope has been lost and where poverty has taken away all hope for the future.
God of hope, keep us hopeful.
Gracious God, we pray for all who are working in partnership to provide health-care and education and infrastructure to communities to recover from the effects of the pandemic and build a better future.
God of hope, keep us hopeful.
Loving God, we give thanks for the hope that you have given us. May the Holy Spirit continue to fill us with all hope enabling us to continue to trust you as we minister and serve in your name. Amen.