Holding onto HOPE

Even when we know in our hearts that God’s ways are always best, our fears and emotions can get the best of us and we can default to our standard behaviour of control. Somehow, it just feels better when we think we are in control.

We try to control the situations that come our way, what feelings we feel, how we are treated by others, the outcomes of the situation. We feel our control slipping away when things get tough, and our circumstances become even more serious or threatening. We feel uncomfortable, uneasy, fearful and we panic. We want to do something to take back the control we think we’ve lost. It’s not an ideal time for humanity, with the threat of this worldwide pandemic. Can we really submit to the will of our Father and let go? 

Jesus prays in the garden

Read Matthew 26:36-56

Jesus' friends were not always with him in the garden. Many of us know what it feels like to be alone right now. What if we had known over a year ago what the last 12 months would hold for us? What if we knew lockdown was coming, being isolated was coming, the risk of getting ill was coming, the risk of death was coming?

Question: If you knew in 2019 what would happen in 2020, would you have done anything different to prepare for the year we have had?

Jesus shows his humanity in a way that maybe we haven’t seen through other stories in the gospel: he is sorrowful, he is sweating blood, he knows what’s coming.

And then he says "my father, if it is possible that this cup passes from me"...is there another way? 

But Jesus knows the HOPE that will come from his decisions today. "Not my will but your will be done"...

Question: When was the last time you were faced with a difficult decision that you were afraid to face?

We are all facing really difficult days. I have heard many times that the past 12 months have felt like Groundhog Day.

If you haven’t seen the film, Groundhog Day is about a town celebrating 'groundhog day' on Feb 2nd, and a cynical reporter played by Bill Murray gets stuck reliving the same day over and over. Groundhog day has become a phrase in our culture to describe a monotonous and repetitive situation.

That’s what the last 12 months may have felt like. There have been many times I have said "please let this end, please let things get back to normal, please can I go on holiday, please can I see friends and family. I just need a sense of normality".

But for Bill Murray, in order for Groundhog Day to end he has to learn to be more positive, more appreciative, more loving to the people around him. And when he has finally transformed as a person, he wakes up the next morning and it’s the next day, Feb 3rd. His Groundhog Day has ended.

The days are moving forward, the pain of each day is there for all to see in the media, on social networks, through family and friends, but it will end. The vaccine is being delivered and we will find a new normal to life.

Question: What will you do differently when life gets back to 'normal'?

Isaiah says the messiah was despised and rejected by men. Jesus has been betrayed by one of his very own, and he will be denied by one of his other closest disciples. Soon he will be alone, but he will also be facing his purpose.

Jesus didn’t allow his circumstances and situation to take him off course. For a moment, in his humanity, he asked if there was another way, but ultimately he resolved to face whatever was coming: to be the HOPE of everyone.

Can we choose to be HOPE today? Can we choose to move beyond our pain and suffering, can we find HOPE? Can we be HOPE for someone else? Could we for a moment put aside our own thoughts and ideas of how things should be and perform acts of kindness and generosity, to bring some light and HOPE to someone else?

HOPE can be hard to find, but it is always there. As we enter into the second week in Lent I want to give you some challenges for the week to help us find HOPE and share HOPE with others. 

Actions:

  1. Pray for someone today who you know is struggling
  2. Do something tangible to show someone love and kindness 
  3. Ask God what is it today about you that he wants to transform. 

This has been one of the stories of the year and I HOPE this video clip although it seems an age ago shows the strength and HOPE that exists in our communities when we come together.