“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never Is, but always to be blest. The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
I think the poet Pope is onto something. There is something in the human heart – a longing, a hope that is kindled and rekindled. Along with faith and love, hope completes the three Christian virtues. This hope is not contingent upon circumstances but rather hope often arises contrary to human circumstances. Yes, there is a restlessness in this life as if we know this world is not our final home.
2022 has now drawn to a close. This year may have been a year of great joy for you. For me this year brought deep sorrow. Yet in the midst of sorrow, I was aware of God’s goodness and countless blessings. I was also aware of the innumerable kindnesses shown from so many friends in so many ways. So I am sad and grateful; I am bereaved comforted. You too may connect with these contrasting experiences and feelings as you reflect upon 2022.
As 2023 dawns, there seems to be a mass of evidence to suggest that hope should not spring from the human heart. Genuine hope seems to be in short supply. Yet, somehow we approach this new year with an optimism, a hope, which is not rooted in this world. For followers of Jesus Christ, we have a hope that is not rooted in feelings but is firmly based on facts.
Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead. Paul describes these things as being of first importance. God is with us and God is for us. Hope spring eternal and the human heart rests secure in the promise of ‘a life to come.’ God has intervened in human history and in individual human lives.
If your faith, hope, and love springs from Jesus, you’ll understand what I mean. Jesus defines who you are, gives purpose to life here, and guarantees life that is to come. If you are not trusting in Jesus, can I encourage you to commence this year with Jesus? May you trust in him by faith; may his love warm your hearts; and may his hope guide you through this year until you meet him in the ‘life to come.’ John Newton put it this way, ‘Our righteousness is in Him, and our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us, but upon the fullness of grace and love in Him, and upon His obedience unto death.’ All that we are and all that we will one day be rests completely on Jesus.
I close with Paul’s benediction, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13
I wish us all a very Happy New Year
Your friend, Bob Akroyd