Another Year of Hope

           Were you overwhelmed at all in 2023? Isaiah 43:1-3 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” If you felt overwhelmed in 2023, does that mean God does not love you or that something’s wrong in your relationship with Him? No. 

            The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.” In a world with sin, life will naturally have moments and seasons of overwhelming burdens. In 2023, my fall consisted of recovering from a stroke and a lung bleed. One time in the hospital the oxygen level in my body even fell below 50 out of 100. My body was overburdened and my family was understandably overwhelmed with concern. Yet, because we had God, we had hope and always will!

            In Matthew 19:16-30, a rich young man asks Jesus what he can do to gain eternal life. Jesus tells the man that to truly obey God and gain eternal life he had to sell his possessions for the poor. The rich young man walked away sad and Jesus told his disciples that rich people would enter the kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. Astonished, they asked Jesus who had any hope of being saved if even a rich man couldn’t enter Heaven. He replied, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Facing our struggles is just like gaining eternal life, we have hope for salvation with God. Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 1:9 having written, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

            1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The reason why we can have faith and hope is because of the great love of God and Jesus Christ. God for giving up His only son and Jesus because He willingly sacrificed Himself for us as His enemies. Jesus’ divine blood can eternally redeem us with God if we choose to embrace Him and get baptized. When we do, we officially become children of God like the ancient Israelites (John 1:12). Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told the Israelites, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). God has the same plans for us as His children because He is never changing. Do you believe God will carry through 2024