Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3
“I've been hope anemic. Not for the eternal, but the temporal.” A friend recently shared a devotional with me that included these words. In my quest to settle the reality of hope into my marrow, the journey has been fraught with challenges. Life circumstances and situations have shaped my perspective, robbing my temporary optimism even as my eternal confidence has remained. The distinction between the two was opaque until these words leapt off the page.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having stretches of the journey feeling like a minefield … or like the next shoe that is sure to drop is going to be even bigger—or equipped with a steal toe that can really do some damage! Life is sometimes like that. I have been known to change the saying to “if it isn’t one thing in is SIX others!” I have described myself as “Pigpen” (from the Peanuts comic strip) because the dust and crud always seems to be circling around me. In these temporal circumstances, I have sometimes found it difficult to remain optimistic, to live hope-filled. I have been “hope anemic.”
Thank Jesus, though, in the eternal, I am hope secure. This week we had the joy of celebrating Resurrection Day, and, for me, so many things were like flashes of hopeful light into my reality. Whether a song with lyrics I hadn’t really focused on or a verse that popped out like never before or the assurances in times of prayer, I have found myself nodding in affirmation rather than glancing quizzically or longingly at the references to hope that have floated by. This Easter my soul has said “Yes!”
What we have to offer to precious ones in the world around us who seem to be struggling through a shroud of darkness is what Peter called a “living hope.” Our pastor this Easter identified that because of the resurrection we have a living hope (forgiveness from a God who loves us); a hope that lasts forever (1 Peter 1:4, “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade); and a genuine hope (verse 9, “the end result of your faith, salvation for your souls”). In the stuff of messy lives encumbered by a load of cares, a living, forever, genuine hope is more than just an antidote, it is the breath of life.
In times when I have been in a “hope anemic” state, I’ve felt lost and a little bit crazy. The first line of the song, Mystery (by Charlie Hall, lyrics below) penetrated. “Sweet Jesus Christ, my sanity … my clarity.” The only thing that gives meaning and clarity in the temporal place of anemic hope is the eternal reality of Jesus and his resurrection. He died. He is risen. He will come again!
Now that is HOPE!
Forgive me for turning my eyes to the difficulty
Of my circumstances, giving in to hopelessness.
Plant your living, eternal, and genuine hope
Firmly, deeply, satisfyingly
And fully into my soul,
Empower me to live through the temporal circumstances
In the firm confidence of eternal hope.
Sweet Jesus, you are my sanity!
March 29, 2016
Partial Lyrics: Mystery by Charlie Hall
Sweet Jesus Christ, my sanity Sweet Jesus Christ, my clarity Bread of heaven broken for me Cup of salvation held up to drink Jesus, Mystery Christ has died and Christ is risen And Christ will come again … Celebrate His death and rising Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming Celebrate His death and rising Lift you eyes, lift your eyes Celebrate His death and rising Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming Celebrate His death and rising Lift you eyes, lift your eyes Christ has died and Christ is risen Christ will come again Christ has died and Christ is risen Christ will come again Christ has died and Christ is risen Christ will come again Sweet Jesus Christ, my sanity