When I see the dark times we are in with COVID-19, I so want to share the Hope that has sustained me through the years and the grace and power that has sustained me through the years.
My faith in Jesus Christ and my belief in the truth of the Bible was in the minority growing up in New York City. My father worked at times at the United Nations and even among my close circle of friends in high school, only half were Christian.
From a young age my belief in traditional Christianity was challenged by family and friends. “God is love. A loving God would never send anyone to hell,” were words I often heard. Questions arose as to why I would believe in the traditional Christian Jesus and not believe the Muslim religion was true, or the Hindu religion, the Bahai faith, the Wicca and even had one school mate try to convert me to Satanism and the worship of Satan.
In this whirlpool of various of religious thoughts, why in the world be Christian?
Some people suppose it is because my parents were Christian, and though their faith definitely played a part, it was not the predominant reason.
The reason I am still a Christian and believe in the Bible is because I have experienced Christ and His Word first hand, I have seen His glory, He is alive. Jesus the Savior of the world has loved me and shown me God the Father’s love 365 days a year for the past 49 years of my life. He has never not answered my prayers, though sometimes the answer has been, “no,” or “wait a bit.”
I have experienced love that is real. A love that hates the evil that tries to deceive, consume and kill me, that clings to what is truly good, that only God can give.
I have lived in a place where my brokenness, weakness, and sin is engulfed by a love that says, “I know you are rebellious, I know you don’t love Me like you should. I know you have sinned today and perhaps are sinning now, but I want to care for you, to love you, to give you physical food and shelter, to heal your broken heart and bring you into a place of everlasting joyful peace with Me.”
And Love, that man, Jesus, my Savior and Friend, has not stood outside my painful, broken life telling me what to do better or threatening to kill me if I don’t measure up to the very just demands of God’s righteous laws. No, He came into my intense pain and suffering because God the Father willed it and He suffered with me to the point of bearing my sickness, my sins, on the cross. He died a torturous death, forsaken by His friends, mocked, rejected even by His own Father, a Holy Righteous, yet so merciful God, who could not look at His Son when He carried my wickedness and sin and the sin of the whole world. See, my friend, my Lord was forsaken so that those who truly simply believe in Him with the faith of a little child will never, ever be forsaken.
That is the message of God’s love. It does not lie and say other religions can also save, because no other religion has Christ and the cross and without these there is no salvation from the punishment every little sin brings. Without the cross we are overwhelmed when troubles come for we don’t have the promise of life and joy eternal.
God IS love. And being God, He gets to define that love. His Word, the Bible has withstood the test of time.
Nietzsche said, “God is dead.” But Nietzsche is dead and Christ Jesus is still often seen in the flesh today by those who are now willing to die for what – or Who – they’ve seen.
And that is the Hope, the anchor in the storm, I wish so desperately to share with you, my friends, today.
The Hope of a very real Jesus who longs for you to believe in Him, believe that His death was for your sins, so you don’t have to die for them. Believe He is your access to a loving Father God. Believe that His resurrection is proof that those who believe in Him will have everlasting life.
Then pray and learn how He wants us to live, to go to church, learn His ways of truth and love.
There is much more to living the Christ-like life. A good church will keep reminding you how loved you are by God, while teaching you to walk in God’s ways.
Once we have Jesus in our lives we have Hope. First and foremost the Hope of eternal life, that no matter what happens down here, if we believe on Him this temporary pain will dissolve into eternal joy.
Secondly we have hope that we are God’s children and if we are striving to live godly lives and study His Word and live it, then we can ask Him to protect us and others from sickness and disease. We can learn to give generously to the poor and to ask God for help when we ourselves need food or finances. We can learn to not be afraid when troubles come, because Jesus is with us in the boat and He will never leave or forsake us.
That is the Hope I have to share with you, a hope not based on my feelings or wishes, but based on His truth.
I pray that today you come to know that hope and I pray that you and your family be truly safe from sickness, poverty, greed and sin.
I love you, but He loves you so much more.