As well as the daily readings by Simon Guillebaud that I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been reading through Pauls first letter to the church in Thessalonica this week. There’s lots in there about hope- he uses the word ‘encourage’ about 10 times (I haven’t counted, its a guesstimate) in quite a short letter, and also lots of ‘giving thanks for…’- Paul is both encouraged by them, and also wants to encourage them. But what for?
The reading I had this morning, which linked to Psalm 121 (I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my hope come from? My hope comes from you Lord…) helped me to focus my thoughts on what we’re about, what Paul was saying to the church in northern Macedonia- Hope. Keep hoping. Don’t give up hoping. Look higher than your current difficulties and hope.
This week I’ve been organising a number of funerals, been hearing about friends with cancer or who’s children are ill, I’ve barely looked at the news but I guess there are still thousands suffering and dying from Ebola, millions of refugees and many living with the fear of job loss or relational instability… In the face of those things hope can seem a little insubstantial, not really solid enough. But it is also indestructible and everpresent- it is always with us if we just look for it. Even when we see no hope in this life, the Bible (and throughout the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians- just go look if you don’t believe me) speaks of hope for a future- beyond this life there is something more, something better. Its up to us whether we choose to accept this as being true, but actually our belief in it doesn’t make it true- it either is, or isn’t… its whether we want to put our hope in it or not.