In the difficult and often confusing world in which we live hope, for many people, is something that seems to be in short supply. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that in a world of pain, grief and sorrow, of complex family relationships, of problems at work, alongside many other hardships of life, hope, for many people, has simply died a death!
However, the onset of a New Year can be a season of hope, can’t it? I say that because hope is a word that can lift our spirits when we’re feeling down and gives us something to cling to when times are tough. Hope is a spark inside our soul that tells us that tomorrow things will be better: I hope I find a job this year; I hope I pass my exams this year; I hope I beat my cancer this year; I hope to meet my soul mate this year; I hope this year will bring more happiness than sadness; I hope …
The Bible talks a lot of about hope and it is always linked to the coming of Jesus. It’s the kind of hope which gave purpose to the Wise Men. We don’t usually think about the Wise Men at Carol Services because, traditionally, we remember them at Epiphany (6th January) but I think we miss out so much on their story. So, very briefly, I want to suggest three types of hope the Wise Men experienced on their journey which may give each one of us a glimmer of hope for the year to come.
1: The Wise Men found Hope in God’s Guidance: We know very little about the Wise Men except that they “…came from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). We know they followed a star – it was common practice in those days to link astronomical happenings with the birth of great men and women. And, regardless of whether God used an existing astronomical phenomenon or created one for the occasion, it fulfilled a supernatural purpose to guide the Wise Men to the place where Jesus had been born.
2: The Wise Men found Hope in God’s Word: The Wise Men didn’t discover the answers to all their questions until they consulted the Holy Scriptures. The Wise Men asked: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2-3). Admittedly, it can often be painful to read the Bible as it challenges our values, morals and ethics but, as God’s guidebook for living, it brings us hope and purpose as we find ourselves being nourished and strengthened by its truth.
3. The Wise Men found Hope in Jesus: I find it quite amazing that the Wise Men were willing to travel thousands of miles to worship a King that wasn’t even their own. But it was the fulfilment of a personal quest, a pilgrimage for truth, a journey that would change their lives forever – as it did for me when I became a Christian in my early 20’s.
Hope, I believe, is one of the most important gifts God gives to us. But have you ever thought that God has hopes for you this New Year?
- God hopes you will believe in Jesus, so that He can give you meaning and purpose day by day.
- God hopes you will allow him to safely guide you each step of your journey through life.
- God hopes you will trust in His Word to enable you grow in your faith.
- God hopes you will find all your hopes and expectations fulfilled in Jesus.
With every blessing in Jesus’ precious name as you enter your ‘Season of Hope’ in the year to come.
This is a copy of my article for the JANUARY 2014 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’ – however, it is a timeless message as we enter every New Year.