In the midst of a storm it is easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless.  Yet hope remains one of the key distinguishing marks of a Christian.  Romans 3:5-3 reads:  “we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  The Holy Spirit serves up hope in the hearts and lives of Christ followers.  And hope is what is desperately needed in our world; for all around us hollow idols are being revealed for what they are - temporal, worthless, and meaningless.  

 

Christians are on a trajectory of hope, yet hope alone is not a strategy.  I can say, I hope to lose weight over the next two months, but without a specific strategy for accomplishing this, I will not achieve it unless some outside factor intervenes (like the stomach flu).  Instead, I could outline my strategy for increased exercise, decreased calorie intake and lifestyle adjustments generally recognized to improve my health.  The result of this, I would argue is that I hope to lose weight over the next few months.

 

Hope powers my strategy . . . but hope is not the strategy.  Likewise, Christians can live in the midst of unprecedented despair because we have a hope that transcends the pain, persecution and problems of this world.  Yet we do not try to escape or ignore the reality, instead we face it head on and unashamed.  This is possible BECAUSE of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi is full of strategies for hopeful living; anchors in the midst of turbulent waters.  Sunday, August 9 we look at Philippians 1.