Joy From the Living Hope
“By a new and living way, entrance to the very throne is reserved for those to whom Jesus’s blood does now atone” (Heb.10:20). We have been given the inside track to God’s heart through Jesus Christ. He is the living way that has broken down all the barriers. No longer strangers, hiding from his presence because of our shame and sin, we have become children of God, beloved and adored. Just as the baby Jesus was cradled in Mary’s arms on that first Christmas night, he now holds us and cares for all our needs. He is faithful and good. Perfect love casts out all fear.
1 Peter 1:3-9
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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
When I was battling a serious illness, my daughter bought me the book by Robert Munsch, “Love You Forever.” It tells the story of a long-suffering mother who lovingly endures all the challenges her son can throw at her while he is growing up. After each misadventure, she holds him in her arms and sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” At the end of her life, she calls her son home and tries to sing him the song once more, but she is too old. Instead, her son scoops her up in his arms, sits in the rocking chair and sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my Mommy you’ll be.” I still can’t get through it without crying. Apparently this number one bestseller is very popular at retirement homes.
Some of us have a challenging relationship with God. Like that little boy, we can be extra naughty, expecting to be chastised and removed from his grace. Instead he picks us up and says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No on can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30). What joy to be loved as much as this.
It is all about grace. . . God’s undeserved love towards us. Grace contains all the virtues—faith, hope and love. It produces the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. What home wouldn’t love to have those traits actively demonstrated each day. Life is the training ground whereby these virtues grow, but as we continue to fall short, fail, and sometimes act as naughty children, our loving Father picks us up and says, “I love you forever–my child you will always be.”
” Lord, your grace reaches us in the darkest, loneliest places of our fear and failure. You love us even when we have trouble loving ourselves. This is possible because you became one with us at Christmas. Thank you for this eternal, life-giving hope.” Amen