It is not often I quote a tele-evangelist.  Well, in fact, I don’t think I have ever done it (knowingly) until now. Robert Schuller was the man behind the “Hour of Power” and the Crystal Cathedral – google those if you want to know more.  But, something about this quote of his just gets me,

Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.

Robert Schuller.

We live in a world of hurt.

Whether it is historic child abuse allegations erupting, seemingly, from every arena where children were – so we thought – in a safe environment learning sport, looked after in a children’s home, discovering more about the Christian faith . . .

Or the nightmare that is Aleppo.

Or the collapse of social care for the elderly across the country.

Or the absolute marmite of the US election and Brexit.

We seem to live in a world of hurt that is devoid of hope.

Everyone and everything we trust has let us down.  It feels like some kind of cruel irony when we read in scripture,

“And hope does not disappoint us” in Romans 5:5 . . .

“Ha” we might say.  “Disappointed? – Forget that, I’m devastated, stunned and furious at how the world is turning out . . . how can it keep getting worse – where is this HOPE?”

Right before this verse about hope comes a list, in the context of “rejoicing” (this is a joke, right?)

Apparently, as we “rejoice” in our sufferings, (5:4)

. . . we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Right.

If I stub my toe when I get out of bed in the morning my day is a write-off, don’t talk to me about perseverance.  Man alive I am so feeble in my human nature.  Tiny things in the grand scheme of all the devastation around the world are enough to set me back.

God knows my feeble nature.  God knows your feeble nature too.

We can only endure with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, we are powerless.  Whether it is to love in our own families or with our immediate neighbours; to give a stuff about what is happening in our town at the food banks this Christmas; whether we can stomach another “crisis” advert; to linger over the images from a destroyed city and a ruined people.  All the diplomats, the politicians, the armies with their weapons . . . those with power are powerless in the face of the mess of our lives without love and without God.

Romans chapter 5 doesn’t leave it with us being powerless, being told to just get through it and have some pie in the sky hope about some kind of eternal future . . . “it will be alright in the end”.  Paul then writes, what for me are the most beautiful and stunning and hope filled verses in the Bible,

For, at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this : While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

Powerless, ungodly, sinners.

Lifted from the mess by the love of God in Christ.

My hope is not built on the effort I make; my hope is not built on trusting those with earthly power; my hope is not just a wistful longing . . .

My hurts too are small.  A slight from someone on Facebook?  Only three people read this blog post?  There are others with huge and unimaginable hurt as we approach Christmas and 2017.  I can’t get my head round that.

I’m not where others are in their pain and suffering.

I’m here.  Where I am.  Yet, I still have a choice.  Will I allow my small hurts to determine how I will face tomorrow and 2017?  Will I let those tiny things shape my outlook and attitude?  Will I, on the other hand, turn to Christ – on whom my life and hope are built.

The famous hymn, “My Hope is built on nothing less” was written by Edward Mote (who, for my Sussex based readers, led a church in Horsham!)  I’ll finish with it, because – well, it sums up the way I want to be, the way I hope I choose to be, and – my desire – which is, regardless of what is happening – to sow hope, to bring hope and be hope by adding value and encouragement to those around me . . .

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.