Time to Hope Again?
Easter often marks a time of new beginnings, fresh starts and hope. Whether we engage with the Easter story that tells of Jesus’ journey to the Cross, His death and resurrection or just enjoy an Easter egg (or two?!) the symbolism around this time of year is about what’s next…
However, after the last 18 months, it can be hard to believe that what’s next is going to be good, and much easier (and understandable) to lower our expectations and plan to ‘just get through’ rather than allow ourselves to ‘Hope Again’!
I mean, how can be believe that good will come when we’re surrounded by so much bad! Many of us are tired of managing our disappointment and, if we’re honest, we’re probably a bit scared of starting to hope again. If that’s you, then please read on…
Tired wannabe hopefuls
For all us tired wannabe hopefuls out there, I want to draw our attention to Hebrews 2:
“…He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
I love this verse. I think I like it so much because its honest. Honest is perhaps a strange word to describe a particular part of the Bible, but what I mean by that is that it recognises the tension between:
- What Jesus did – “…He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him”
- What we experience – “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
- What we do next – “But we see Jesus”
We’re not expected to pretend everything is great because Jesus defeated all the bad stuff at the cross, because let’s be honest, it’s not what we experience right now! However, we’re equally not meant to create a new theology that implies Jesus defeated all the bad stuff, but we only experience His victory if/when… (you fill in the blank).
We see Jesus
We are meant to ‘see Jesus’!
To turn our attention to Him, whether we see everything around us ‘in subjection under Him’ or we see all the bad stuff having a party in every area of our lives. Both can be hard, so I want to devote the rest of this blog to helping all of us look to Jesus.
I’m not going to promise that everything will suddenly turn around (although I hope it does, and believe its possible!), but I will promise that as we turn our attention to Jesus, hope will begin to rise in our hearts again, because Jesus is our Hope.
I believe that as we follow Jesus from His entrance into Jerusalem all the way to Resurrection Day, each of us will resonate with a point along the journey, a place where we feel like we’re at, where our ‘hope’ is at. As this happens, please feel free to linger at this point, to read the passages in the Gospels connected to it, reflect on the questions, as you do, you may find that Jesus is working with you where you’re at. Don’t rush on to finish the blog, instead be with Jesus in that moment, let Him guide, heal and restore, so that we can all ‘Hope Again’.
We start the journey as Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a donkey. The interesting thing here is that whilst this is unexpected and not the norm, it was planned! Both in the way Jesus directed His disciples to go and look for a very specific donkey, and in the way that the Zechariah had prophesied of this moment years before. Maybe that tells us something about how we can ‘Hope Again’. Maybe the hope we’re looking for is going to arrive in our lives in an unexpected way? And yet has been planned to arrive in in our lives since before the beginning of the world! Maybe we’re looking in the wrong places for hope?
Monday & Tuesday
As we continue following Jesus as He makes His way to the Cross we see Him:
- curse a fig tree
- clear the temple
- rebuke religious leaders
- discuss the end of the age
Maybe in all these actions Jesus is again redirecting where we find our hope and what we build it on? Do we trust in the systems and practices of the world we live in? Do we put our hope in the institutions, leaders, cycles of life, and everyday routines we’re used to? Or do we turn our attention to something more secure, solid and true? Do we begin to build our hope with things we find when we see Him who is invisible? When we do that, does our hope start to be restored again?
As we reach Wednesday, we see Jesus rest! There isn’t much recorded about what Jesus did on Wednesday and scholars speculate that after a few exhausting days, Jesus and his disciples spent a day resting in Bethany, preparing for Passover. Hope rested! Maybe hope can be found when we rest? Maybe in our rush to ‘find hope’ we miss Him sitting down with His friends not ‘doing’ much at all. Maybe in your pursuit of hope, you need to stop and see Who’s around?
Maybe, for you, hope isn’t found in rest right now? Maybe it’s found in other spiritual practices? On Maundy Thursday we meet Jesus washing his disciples feet, sharing a Passover meal with them, introducing communion, and praying! Maybe it’s time to engage with Hope in the taking of communion? Maybe you’ll find Hope in the sharing of a meal with friends? Maybe as your take time aside, even when you don’t feel like it, to pray, you’ll discover Hope start to form in your heart again?
Jesus was put on trial, He was beaten, He was abused, He was abandoned, and He was hung on a cross to die, barely recognisable. Yet He still loved, He still forgave, and He was still Jesus. Maybe you feel like your hope is unrecognisable? Maybe you feel like you’ve taken such a beating that how can you ever hope again? But perhaps, this is the place where we see our hope in Jesus is more robust than we thought? Maybe it can be beaten, abused, abandoned and not look like itself but still be there? Still changing the world? Still bringing freedom? Maybe it just looks a bit different to before?
Jesus is dead!
He’s in a tomb.
Maybe that’s exactly where you feel like your hope is right now. Dead. Locked away. Guarded by the enemy. Taken from you. Maybe you feel sad, lost and hopeless? Saturday isn’t a nice place to be, and the temptation to run from that place of brokenness can often be enormous. But maybe you need to stay in that place. To sit by the tomb that marks the end of your hope. Maybe it’s a time to cry, to scream, to shout? Maybe get angry with God for how you feel let down? Maybe it’s time to accept your hope is dead, and no matter what you do, you cannot bring it back to life?
Because maybe, if we don’t rush through Saturday, and we stay in the place where our hope died long enough, we may encounter the One who will bring it back to life again?
Jesus is Alive!
He has done the impossible. He has defeated death. But He looks different. Maybe the hope that died, looks different to hope that rose again? Maybe some parts of your hope stayed dead? The interesting thing about Jesus here is once He defeated death and rose from the dead He went to meet people and people saw Him. He appeared in different places, such as…
- to Peter
- to the disciples on the Emmaus Road
- to the rest of the disciples in a house
But first to Mary Magdalene in the garden. Why? Because she stayed near the tomb, she stayed near the place where Hope died and because of this was one of the first to see ‘Hope again’. She experienced hope firsthand and had the privilege of sharing Hope with others too.
Maybe that’s the message for us, to stay in the place where we lost our hope, to stay longer than we want to but long enough that we meet Hope again in His planned return. Maybe instead of rushing away from the pain and heartache of lost hope, and racing towards another temporary and feeble replica hope, we just stay where we are and meet the Hope as He comes again to ‘make all things new’ (Revelation 21:5).
Maybe Hope is with us in the waiting too, in the place of pain and loss, perhaps we just don’t know it (Genesis 28:16).
Maybe Hope will help us ‘Hope Again’.
‘Hope Again’ Worship Project
In our journey to let Jesus be our Hope, we put together some songs that help us fix our eyes and attention on Jesus, and in doing so help us to ‘hope again’.
We pray that these songs will also help you to ‘hope again’ too!