Hope: Dealers or Users

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I don’t like depending on radio stations to provide my music. They play the same 12 songs over and over, so I usually connect my phone and my Spotify app in the truck and create my own mix. But every now and then I’ll just scan the stations and see what happens. It’s about to be spring and the commercials lately have been all about spring planting. I’m not sure if Sara has heard these commercials, but if so, she is probably thinking about planting another garden…

The problem is that neither Sara or I have a green thumb and although we have made multiple attempts at gardening, we’ve never come close to a bumper crop. I don’t know why we keep trying, but we do. With every home we buy, Sara starts to spy out a spot for a garden and I’m over here thinking, Why? We’ve never grown anything. But God love her, she has hope that one day we will be walking through a garden and picking our veggies and eating salads three meals a day and we’ll be healthy and have 6-pack abs. I’m skeptical.

But ya know, planting, gardening, farming, it’s a hopeful endeavor. You put a seed in the ground and regardless of your expertise and experience, there is an element of it that rests on the shoulders of hope. Hope is powerful. Losing hope is powerful too. I’ve met people who have lost hope, and there are no magic words to bring it back to life. It is often life-experience that has beaten the hope out of them. They’ve just been let down too many times.

If you ask my parents, they will tell you that I was a natural-born cynic. Although I think that is a bit of an unfair assessment, I will not argue with them because of the whole honor your parents or die thing in the Bible (my paraphrase). Regardless, I do have a knack for seeing the real or potential problems in situations and organizations. Without hope, that is a recipe for a cynic.

But in spite of my natural bent toward cynicism, I am hopeful. I would go even further to say I am FULL of hope. I may doubt the possibility of the Weavers growing a successful garden, but I believe that the best is yet to come and that whatever situation you are in, God is faithful to accomplish his will and that he will be glorified in it. I drive down city streets and see abandoned buildings and I can envision not only what used to be there, but could be there. I am also a pastor, so I get to preach Jesus and point people to new life and to the hope of the cross. I deal in hope—All followers of Jesus do.

1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (Emphasis added) I love that—A living hope. This is a hope that can’t be lost and can never die. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” 

At this point you may be thinking, yeah Cary, that’s about Jesus, not your garden… I know, but that living hope we’ve been birthed into doesn’t just affect us spiritually, it changes the way we interact with the physical world as well. Jesus-followers are, by their very nature, a hopeful people. We can’t justify pessimism or cynicism when our master is the author of hope. Because we’ve been born into this family of hope, we can now view even the most dire of circumstances with hope-filled eyes. 

Our world needs more hope-filled Christians. More Jesus-people who can look at broken people, broke-down communities, and a financially broke nation and say, with Jesus, there is hope. We need more hope-saturated individuals who still dream dreams and still see life where there is no life. We need more farmers sowing seeds and builders building dreams and yes, my wife needs to keep trying a garden year-after-year because hope never dies.

All this must be true because as Jesus-followers we can’t just be dealers of hope, we must be users. We can’t cant just gather in our church buildings and sing songs of hope and preach messages of hope, we’ve got to get out into our communities and be the living embodiment of hope. We should be the most hopeful, positive, and life-giving people our neighbors have ever known. They should run to us when crisis or disappointment strikes because they know we’ll have the words of hope.

But we should also look at our own lives and evaluate. How does infinite hope impact your relationship with your spouse, your kids, your boss? Are you making decisions influenced by hope? I haven’t always been the best at living out hope, but God has grown me in this area. How about you, if you look at your life are you a hope dealer or are you also a user?

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