Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6–7) Do not be anxious - is the bible serious when it says Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) Imagine if these were trustworthy sayings, and we could decrease levels of anxiety while raising levels of hope – what difference would that make to our community?
Hope is one of the great themes of the bible which we remember at Advent. At a low point in the history of Israel, when they had been cut down to size and were only a decaying remnant of their former glory, the prophet Isaiah said, A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1) and In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious (Isaiah 4:2). This was promising hope, that from the stump of Israel a new branch, the messiah, would grow with new life.
The bible doesn’t use the word hope in terms of wishful thinking, rather as a concrete certainty that can be relied on. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19) Neither is it just a little thread of hope but hope that overflows. 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) This in not a self-generated hope as we try our hardest to see the best in a bad situation, rather it is hope which is provided by God. It is hope that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we have a deep well of hope that never has and never will run dry.
Today if you are anxious and in need of hope, I invite you to turn to God in prayer, to the Holy Spirit for an overflowing hope and to Jesus who is our anchor of hope. Perhaps join us for our Advent services as we think about Hope, Joy, Peace and Love.
Where do you normally find hope?
What would it mean for you to cast your anxiety on God?
Rev John Malcolm