A recent Adam Sandler movie called Click builds a story around the discovery of a TV remote with the power to change situations by simply pressing the stop, mute, fast forward or rewind buttons. Such fantasies are good fun and can be a welcome break from the real world, but sooner or later we have to get back to reality.
Change is what life is all about – what makes it exciting and scarey, frustrating and a relief. Everyone likes some change, but our tolerance levels for dealing with it vary. When life is perfect we want it to last forever, and get very disappointed when the inevitable dips in the roller-coaster ride of life come. But when our situation is unbearable, change can’t come quick enough, and we feel trapped when “nothing seems to be happening.” We can become very impatient and frustrated, angry and resentful, depressed and fearful – even suicidal – when change does not happen like we want it to. Terrible events (War, Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, Cancer, Car accidents, Bankruptcy, Job loss, Sickness, and more) bring dramatic, often traumatic, change to the lives of those who are caught up in them, but the ripple effects will continue to impact them and all those who are connected to them for the rest of their lives. We know from the impact of the Great Wars, that this ripple effect can travel across many generations.
Yet, to those of us with the eyes to see, life offers many symbols of Hope – inspirational stories about those who have overcome great obstacles, images of re-growth after a bushfire, and the emerging butterfly are just three examples – to lift us out of the pit of despair and onto the road to recovery.
Not false hopes – that encourage us to deny what has happened or pretend that we can go back to the way things were, or even to suggest that we were not even affected – but gifts of God, etched into the very fabric of creation and life, that remind us that life (even our life) matters.
Hope allows us to see a better tomorrow. It gives us reasons to choose to go on; it inspires us to rise above the troubles like others have done before; it reminds us that we don’t have to face tomorrow alone.
Isaiah 40:31 also reminds us that Hope is from the Lord, and that in Him we have a refuge where we can find the resources to move forward. He said, “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall rise up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.”
After a major crisis, we are all forced to reassess our lives. Everything we know has been rocked to the core, life is out of control, the old ways of doing things may not be working, and we desperately need to find a better way. Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” In other words, He specializes in re-building broken and damaged lives into something better when we let Him.
The change Jesus is offering (sometimes called repentance), involves admitting we need to change direction and then coming to Him for help. Jesus offers everyone a new beginning, a new direction and a new purpose, because He can take both your brokenness and your wholeness and out of them create a masterpiece – just like a mosaic artist does when confronted with a box of broken tiles.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3,4, Paul reminds us that God wants to start a ripple effect of Hope through His kingdom people, when he said,”..the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted by God.”
The ripple effect of this Hope (sometimes called eternal life) is not just some “pie in the sky when you die” thing, it begins as soon as we receive the new life He is offering.
Jesus also said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” He wasn't pontificating from an ivory tower; Jesus spoke as one who knew both the suffering and heart-ache of life, and the peace and joy of being One with the Father.
His offer to share what is His - with ALL who will come - remains.