By Jamie Harms
After a full morning getting kids off to school and my husband out the door for work, I felt depleted, and it was only 8:30 a.m. I decided I needed to sit down with some tea and my Bible for a few minutes to reorient my heart and mind for the rest of the day. I picked up my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, and because I’m behind in the readings, I began in Proverbs. As I read, I came across Proverbs 13:12, which rang true in my heart: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
My heart feels heavy and sick. The hope that we had for this to be a normal school year, for our community and activities to be as they used to be, for peace between neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ to reign, for our world to not be so topsy turvy has disappointed us. Hope has been deferred once again, and we are tired. As I chat with other women, I know I am not alone in this sentiment. So many of us are weary and overwhelmed as we settle into a fall routine, and we see that when we place our hope in things of this world, like everything going back to normal, we find it wanting. But we do not have to live as those without hope.
So, how do we live with hope in a hopeless world?
As we start digging into First Thessalonians together this week, I think we will find some clues. The Thessalonians were new believers in Christ. They were being persecuted by their own people for following Jesus, yet in 1:10 Paul talks about how their hope was found in waiting for Jesus to come and deliver them. In each of the five chapters of the letter, Paul mentions Christ’s coming, reminding them to view their present life circumstances through the lens of God’s promises for the future. Their hope was anchored not in the changing world struggling around them but in the future God had for them. As they did life with others, they could be beacons of light and hope, pointing others to Jesus.
Like the Thessalonians, we can anchor our hope in God’s promises — to always be with us (Matthew 28:20), to give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30), to send His Spirit to be our advocate, intercede for us, and comfort us (John 15:26, Romans 8:26), to give us abundant life (John 10:10), to forgive us and not hold our sins against us (Hebrews 8:12), and to return for us (John 14:2-3). Our hope is not just a feeling of anticipation but is grounded in the character and promises of our God. Even when life around us seems hopeless, the unchanging nature of our promise-keeping God reminds us that we have a sure and steady hope for the future. We can join the Thessalonians in turning from hopeless idols to serve the living God, eagerly awaiting His return (1:9-10) and shining brightly for Him in a world of pain and hopelessness.
Twice after these passages telling the Thessalonians that Christ is coming again, Paul reminds them to encourage each other with such words. We often need each other to point us back to our hope and help us remember in Whom our hope is anchored, to be reminded that we don’t need to be weighed down by the heaviness of the world around us. This is one of the many reasons that we gather each Thursday to be in God’s Word together. We invite you to join us as we start our study of First Thessalonians, beginning this Thursday, September 30. You can register here. Bring your Bible and your Discipleship Handbook that you received Sunday at church (extra copies will be available) and come to the Barn at either 9:30 a.m. or the church office at 6:30 p.m. for an hour of teaching and discussion.
If you have not already, I encourage you to listen to the sermon from Sunday here or here. Our time in I Thessalonians will dovetail with the sermon series on discipleship that kicked off Sunday. You can think of this series like Sunday sermons are our lecture and our Thursday times are like the lab section, where we expand upon the lecture topic and put it into practice.
May God bless you as you anchor your hope in Him and reflect His light and hope to the world. See you Thursday!