Missing and crashed airplanes, the deadly Ebola virus outbreaks, strained race relations, disturbing cyber-attacks, abuse of the innocent, the terrifying and murderous reach of ISIS – these are the news stories dominating the headlines as the curtain falls on 2014.
With all of the bad news, there seems to be little cause for optimism for 2015. We yearn for peace on earth but are confronted by conflict between politicians, nations, and interest groups. As vulnerable individuals we experience the pain of a broken world aching to be made whole again. This is not only true for 2014 but has been the state of our world for generations.
Yet even in our suffering, we must never lose hope of a better day that is coming. The apostle Paul described it like this, "What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal later. All creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay" (Romans 8:18–21 NLT).
Be hopeful. God is working in our world. Through all of the pain and conflict, in the personal and private tragedies as well as in the public world-shaking crises – our God is at work to bring about His peace on earth. Consider these ten benefits of hope to carry you into 2015 ...
1. Hope provides you joy in any situation.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12 NIV 2011).
2. Hope generates faith and love.
"We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel" (Colossians 1:4–5 NIV).
3. Hope causes you to live like Jesus.
"All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:3 NIV).
4. Hope inspires you to persevere and endure through difficulty.
"We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV).
5. Hope uplifts your depressed soul.
"Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 43:5 NIV).
6. Hope prompts you to praise God
"As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more" (Psalm 71:14 NIV).
7. Hope anchors your soul during the storms of life.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain" (Hebrews 6:19 NIV).
8. Hope moves you to take action with great boldness.
"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold" (2 Corinthians 3:12 NIV).
9. Hope develops your patience.
"If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Romans 8:25 NIV).
10. Hope establishes your sense of security and safety.
"You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety" (Job 11:18 NIV).
God became human ... Jesus came into our world as a baby to give us hope – hope for freedom, forgiveness, and new life. At the season of Advent and Christmas, we remember that Christ entered our world becoming like us to complete the work of redemption, but we also anticipate with hope the work that Christ will do in our world to make whole all that is broken and bring peace to our hearts and to our world.
Hold onto hope! Don't let today's disheartening, distressing headlines smother your joy. Experience true joy in anticipating a glorious and certain future while anchored in the guaranteed assurances of biblical hope. Remember, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:6–7 NIV).