Living In Hope . . .

Pastor Mark Nymeyer
I have this prayer list tucked in my Bible. It’s printed on green card stock and it has been updated as much as anything I have around my life (Not counting this computer – ha). My truck is old and my left knee decrepit; nonetheless, the maintenance of my prayer list commands more consistent attention. I have little hope that my 1991 Chevy will make it past 2031 or that my 1953 model knee will make it much past 2053 no matter how faithful my upkeep. After reading 1 & 2 Peter this past month I believe that what’s on my prayer list is of concern to God; the author of hope. I pray, we pray, because there is hope; hope that God can and will step in so that we can ‘remove’ certain requests from our prayer lists. A believer’s hope is ‘living’; that’s the way Peter describes it! So my prayer list is current—because my hope in final glorification bleeds over into the details of life that dominate my prayer list and nurture joy in living.

The subject of ‘hope’ may be Peter’s focus, as ‘love’ is John’s focus and ‘faith’ is Paul’s. I’m not sure who identified that but I chose to have a look this month to see what Peter had to say, and primarily what he had to say about hope. He only uses the word five times (1 Peter 1:3, 13, 21; 3:5, 15 – ESV) but his instruction and challenges all rest on a hope that will one day be a reality in the life of all believers; our final rescue from sin and eternal glorification .

At least two themes run through his letters; first, obedience to Jesus Christ is evidence that I am living in hope of Christ’s eventual justice and triumphant return. He has much to say about doing the right thing no matter what others are doing. Obeying Christ; following his example in all areas of life is the daily evidence that I live in Christ-centered hope. Second, suffering, persecution and trials reveal the nature and depth of this hope in me. Suffering is something that Jesus endured to save us but it is sometimes the journey that is set before us in this life. It is part of the journey before me these days. How do I live in hope of what is promised ‘in Christ’ and graciously face the days that are immediately before me; that stand before my family? The family is looking to me for direction, so it is important that I find, that we find our way. Can I know the way as certainly as I know my place in Christ as a member of his royal family, as part of his chosen people? I am hoping that the answer is ‘YES’!

At this point the hardest part of my hope is patient belief. Control is a myth; I am sideways emotionally and decisions are being made around me that do not follow the wisdom that brought me to maturity. All I have is hope; hope that Godly sense and decision making will return; not the way I define it but the way God intends it. I am as ready for change as a man can be; just tell me what’s next, the waiting is challenging, my hope is slipping.

Peter’s context for hope in his first letter is interesting to explore. He speaks of ‘living hope’ (1:3) which I take to mean, true hopefulness in light of Christ’s resurrection. If God can raise Himself from the dead he can do anything that concerns me. He speaks of setting my hope fully on the grace that God has for me when Christ returns (1:13) by daily choosing to turn from my old ways of thinking and walking the path of God-defined holiness. This is the consistent act I am called to as a believer who hopes in God (1:21). Later Peter illustrates daily hope with the example of Sarah and other ‘holy women’ who submitted to their husbands, believing that God was leading them (3:5) through their husband’s obedience. Peter is saying that all suffering; even suffering under persecution, is an opportunity to actively demonstrate the hope (3:15) that is in us as we believe that God is in control—especially when we suffer for doing what is right. When I am ‘born again’ (1:3) I am initiated into this hopeful living and I have come to expect an inner joy that springs from that hope. There should be joy when we live in hope.

But that’s the problem—joy has departed; all I sense is the ‘wicked one’ killing hope. He is not tempting me to lie, to be unfaithful or quit; I am tempted to take control and give up hope that God will make things right. The song, “No More Night” brings me back to the truth that Peter speaks of in both letters.

The timeless theme, Earth and Heaven will pass away.

It’s not a dream, God will make all things new that day.

Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell.

Evil is banished to eternal hell.

No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again.

And praises to the great “I AM.” We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See all around, now the nations bow down to sing.

The only sound is the praises to Christ, our King.

Slowly the names from the book are read.

I know the King, so there’s no need to dread.

No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again.

And praises to the great “I AM.” We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See over there, there’s a mansion, oh, that’s prepared just for me,

Where I will live with my Savior eternally.

No more night. No more pain. No more tears. Never crying again.

And praises to the great “I AM.” We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

All praises to the great “I AM.” We’re gonna live in the light of the risen Lamb.

For a moment joy returns in a stream of tears reminding me that joy rests on the certainty of God’s control; God’s final outcomes; in the timetable of God’s sacred designs—I shall have to be patient and live in hope.

Father, today is filled with the uncertainty of sin-drenched life—mine and plenty more. Forgive me for my part and give me the grace to respond to the rest around me while I live in hope. Help me demonstrate a living hope that overcomes the darkness of this life in anticipation of the light that is coming in the next. My prayer list is still my deepest concern; especially a precious child wounded by others. Please bring full redemption so we can see the light of your glorious face in that life; in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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