Pastor Note #109: Living as Hopeful People in Fearful Times


Are these hopeful times or are they fearful times?  I write these words on a warm day, after a hard winter of snow and ice.  The daffodils are poking up through the leaf litter in my flowerbeds.  The crocuses have already begun to bloom.  In fact, there are several dandelions in their yellow perkiness smiling at me mischievously from my backyard.  The weather forecast is that by afternoon the temperatures will reach into the 60s.

The Snows of Spring; photo by GAC

And yet, the furnace is still blowing warmed air through the vents in my office.  It crossed my mind a few minutes ago that I should just shut down the furnace.  But then I thought, “It’s only the first week of March.  We’ll need that furnace some more before spring weather has securely arrived.”  And visions of heavy March snowstorms rose up from my memory.  More than a few times have I stepped back into my warm kitchen on a mid-March morning, boots soaked through, hat soaked through, coat dripping, back aching from shoveling five or six inches of heavy, wet, late-winter snow off my driveway and sidewalks.

No, we’re not out of it yet.  There will likely be more winter before we’re all done.  And yet, spring will come.  Warm, sunny days will come.  That isn’t speculation; that isn’t wishful thinking.  The coming of spring with its warmth and sunshine is a certainly.  I see the possibility, even probability, of dark winter days in March, but beyond them I can see the certainty of spring.  So, do I look at the days ahead with hope or with dread?

Yes, this reflection on the weather of March is about more than just seasonal weather patterns in North America.  I mean it as a metaphor for the Christian life, a metaphor that is, I admit, a bit of a cliché.  The question this metaphor asks is this:  What will we choose as the defining focus of our lives—the certainty of spring or the possibility—even probability—of more winter?  Which will we allow to shape our attitude toward life?

Daffodil; photo by GAC

We live in a Genesis 3:18 world.  It is a world filled with thorns and thistles to be sure.  But the world of Revelation 21:4-5 is coming more surely than the coming of spring to my yard.  And the world of “no death or mourning or crying or pain” will not be a mere passing season; it will be so forever and ever.

Strangely, though, so many of those who know all about the “everything new” world of Revelation 21 still live lives dominated by attitudes of fear and dread rather than attitudes of joy and peace and hope.  It should not be so.

Fear and dread almost always lead us to become defensive, snappish, and hostile people as well.  And it scarcely needs saying that defensive, hostile, frightened people can never really credible bear witness to a world made new in Jesus.  Who would believe them?

No, we are meant to be people of hope who live with joy and humility and peace because we know without doubt that Jesus, who rose from the dead, is making everything new (Rev. 21:5).  Fear and dread in us tells the world that we don’t believe the Good News, so why should anyone else.  Joy and peace and love in us declare our confident hope in the new world of the risen Jesus Christ, a hope that will be and always has been contagious.

In this season of Easter, let’s strive to eliminate all fear and live as people of confident, winsome hope in a risen Savior, and that not only at Easter but at all times.

© 2021 Gary A. Chorpenning; all rights reserved; use with permission.

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