Today’s sermon focuses on hope: what it is, and how we cultivate it. We tend to think of hope as a personal matter, how I am remaining expectant for God’s good in my life. And indeed, it has a strong individual and internal element.
But there are a couple of comments in the psalms—where hope is mentioned most frequently—that speak to the issue of how our personal hope impacts those around us. One is positive and one negative.
Psalm 69:6 says:
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
Here the psalmist prays lest his weakness, his failure of hope, bring others to shame. When those who profess Christ fall into sin or question the faith, it shakes the faith and hope of others.
Psalm 119:74 takes a more positive tack:
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
The psalmist’s fervent hope in God’s word serves to encourage others who hope. Our faith bolsters the faith of others.
The body of Christ is an organism; weakness in one area threatens the whole. By the same token, strength in one area, gives life to the whole. We neither struggle alone, nor should we rejoice alone.
Ephesians 4:4 says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling…”. We are not all tasked with maintaining our own hope. Rather we are unified with other believers in maintaining and living in light of one hope. What this means is if my brother’s hope is flagging, I cannot sit idly by; I must come alongside him to foster the hope within him afresh.
Unfortunately, so often when we are struggling to maintain our hope we avoid other believers. We should instead seek them out as our lifeline to hope, that we may see the hope of Christ in them and be revived in hope ourselves.