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by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

March, 2012

One day not long ago at work, a young man approached me and said, in uncertain English, “My car has run out of battery.” It was clear English wasn’t his first language and possible he didn’t know much about cars. Afterward, I thought about his words and how he had expressed his difficulty: “My car has run out of battery.”

We’ve all had experiences with “running out” of something or other. Someone who cooks might run out of salt or some other ingredient. I sometimes get to the laundromat and discover that I’ve run out of detergent, fabric softener or other supplies. And I’m embarrassed to think how many times I’ve run out of gas while driving.

Of course, there are more serious situations as well: Most of us have had times in our finances when we’ve run out of money. Or sometimes in our personal relationships we run out of patience with someone we love, our spouse or children. Or sometimes we simply run out of hope.

Jesus came into a world that had lost hope. The Jews had been waiting—and watching—for their Messiah, their deliverer, their king, for centuries. And the Gentiles had no promise of a Messiah at all. But Matthew paraphrased the words of Isaiah in reference to Christ:
“. . . and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matt. 12:21; Isa. 42:2 ESV). Isaiah had written these words centuries before the time of Christ. We can have hope in Christ’s name as well. When Paul defended himself before the Roman King Agrippa, he said, “‘And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers,’” (Acts 26:6 ESV). Paul’s hope was in the resurrection of Christ and the promise of his own resurrection. We share in that same hope for our own resurrection. And he wrote that “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4 ESV). The Scriptures are there for us too. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27 ESV). “Gentiles” means you and me. Christ is our “hope of glory” too.

Paul told his young friend Timothy, “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10 ESV). You and I have the same hope as Paul and Timothy. The author of Hebrews wrote about
“. . . a better hope . . . through which we draw near to God.” (Heb. 7:19b ESV). That “better hope” is there for us too. And the prophet Jeremiah prayed,  “Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old . . .” (Lam. 5:21 ESV). The same God who restored Israel can restore you and me.

When we “are out of hope,” God can renew our spirits and restore a right relationship. Someone near you is out of hope or nearly so. Perhaps you’ve been out of hope yourself. Our church has just begun a small group study about sharing our faith stories with those who don’t know Christ as we do. Our hope in Christ affects—or should affect—how we think, how we feel, what we value and how we live. I pray that each of us will become better at sharing our stories and that they will come to know the hope we share. As the author of the study book, Richard Peace, noted, we all have a need for God in our lives and we’re all on a spiritual journey. It helps to know we’re not alone and it gives us hope that we have a God who watches over us during the journey.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.” (“My Hope Is Built,” vs. 1 Edward Mote, circa 1834.)

Copyright © 2012 by David Phelps