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The God of hope

One of our great needs as we enter a new year is hope. The problems of our world are great and there are no easy solutions. In our personal lives or our families we may be experiencing sadness and pain. Even the dark and damp days tend to depress us. So we don’t find it easy to be optimistic.

Real hope is found in God. Secular humanism, which is energetically promoted by some, offers no hope. The apostle Paul prayed a remarkable prayer for some early Christians, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.” This is a prayer we can make our own for the coming year as we put our trust in the God of hope. How does God give us hope whatever our circumstances may be?

God helps us to deal with the past. Our memories of the past can cast a long shadow over the future. All of us have reason to be troubled by our past sins. Other people may also have done bad things to us. We need to find forgiveness and to be able to forgive. In Jesus God provided a way for us to be forgiven. When he died he suffered the punishment our sins deserve. The moment we receive Jesus as our Saviour we are forgiven and have nothing to fear. Through experiencing God’s forgiveness we also find the grace to forgive others.

God promises to provide our daily needs. As we enter a new year we may be anxious about how we will be able cope financially and pay the bills. We may have lost, or be in danger of losing, our job. What a difference it makes to be able to pray to God and trust him to provide all our needs. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, give us this day our daily bread.” God knows our needs. We can bring all our anxieties to him and trust him to help us.

God gives us hope for the future. None of us knows what will happen in the coming year. All may go well or we may face serious illness or even death. Jesus is a living Lord who gives us a certain hope whatever happens. When we trust in him he promises, “Because I live you will live also.” Nothing that happens can rob us of the hope Jesus gives us when we trust in him.

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