Text: Romans 8 37-39
Several years ago, my younger daughter Ashley had talked with my wife to say that she was planning to drive her car for a short trip to surprise me for my birthday.
It was going to be a beautiful day for the drive.
As Ashley embarked on her journey, she was doing well until she was attempting to pass a large truck when her left rear tire blew out. In attempt to correct the car which was next to the truck traveling very fast, she hit the truck and went flying off into the middle of the road flipping two times before landing upside down.
We were eventually connected to the police who indicated that Ashely had been transported to the hospital. Her condition was unknown.
It was easily one of the most frightening experiences of my life.
On the way down to visit her, all kinds of thoughts raced through my head. What would I find? Is she okay? Is she hurt?
I was anxious and worried but hopeful for a good outcome.
When I arrived, Ashley was walking out the emergency room doors. She was fine. She had a couple of bumps and few scratches but that was it.
It turns out when the accident occurred, two doctors were in separate cars right behind Ashley. They stopped and helped. A nurse was on the other side of the road stopped. She held Ashley’s hand as the emergency people arrived.
Today, we could talk about tragedies. We could talk about loss or life changes, but I am not going to do that. I want to talk about hope.
Hope is the expectation of something good. It is an attitude or watchfulness of something better.
The Bible is full of stories of hope. Many of the stories immerge out of struggle.
1. God’s people longed for a release from slavery in the Book of Exodus. They lived with hope that one day they would be free.
2. A woman named Ruth struggled to survive in a land that did not value women. She lived with hope that one day the world would change.
3. David had to face the most ferocious man in all the world, a giant named Goliath. David lived with hope that he could defeat Goliath.
And then there is this great letter from Paul written to the church at Roman where he lays out his beliefs about God and how we are to live.
Paul wrote much of the New Testament, and he was a man of hope. He did not find hope in accomplishments. He was a learned man. He followed the law and obeyed every principle of it. That was not in the end where he had found his hope.
After his conversation on the road to Damascus, Paul’s life changed dramatically, and he lived for Christ expressing those incredible words that nothing in life will ever separate us from the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ.
Even though Paul was in prison when he wrote these words, he was still hopeful.
Over the years of my ministry, I have come across some great stories of hope.
When I speak in the United States, I share story after story of the hope I find in Lebanon. I share stories of Joseph and Najla Kassab and your great leaders at the Synod. I speak of Pastor George Mourad. I tell stories of the way you have embraced refugees from other lands. These are all stories of hope.
Yet, I have enjoyed the funny stories of hope also.
I heard the story about some children who lined up for some snacks in a Christian school. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. A teacher had written a note and placed it next to the apples. It read, “Take only one, God is watching.”
Moving through the line, to the other end of the table, was a large pile of cookies.
One little boy wrote his own note and placed it next to the cookies, “Take all you want, God is watching the apples.”
An endless pile of cookies – one of my hopes for heaven. I have hope.
People who follow Christ live with hope despite the trouble and tribulation. That is what Paul wrote about today. There is an expectation for something better not only in this life in following Christ but in the next life as well.
In Romans text, the life of the Apostle Paul has found him flogged, beaten, stoned, and thrown out of town. Now he is confined to a jail.
When reading Paul, his writings are filled joy, love and hope.
Listen to these words from Paul another letter, in his letter to the Thessalonians:
“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1: 2).
Those are encouraging words filled with hope.
Near the end of another letter, Paul shared how a hopeful person lives. It is by deciding where to place one’s thoughts and one’s energy.
Whatsoever things are true…. whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report…think on these things (Philippians 4:8 KJV) because all of those are true in Jesus Christ.
Our outstanding joy, our eternal hope, and our unassailable victory is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Prior to our text, Paul categorizes a fearsome list of the most traumatic circumstances that may impact or afflict us in the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.
He proclaims that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, including tribulation and distress; famine and nakedness; peril; persecution and death. Paul emphatically declares that we are more than conquerors, in every single situation that crosses our path.
I recently took a trip to Poland to work with three of our partners in that very troubled and turbulent region. We stayed in Warsaw, a city of two million people and watched as 600,000 Ukraine refugees arrive into the city with 300,000 of them children. In spite all of that, I saw hope.
Despite overwhelming conditions, the Ukraine people are a very hopeful people. Everyone one of them indicated a desire to return home soon to reunite with their brothers, husbands, fathers and uncles who were required to stay and fight the war with the Russians.
The family bond, sealed in Christ, will not be broken. There was hope.
And when I have travel to Lebanon, I find the same hope.
1. Despite the economic situation.
2. Despite the problems within the government.
3. Despite COVID
4. Despite the thousands of refugees from Syria, you continue to think of others before yourselves. Your actions give me hope.
You continue to move forward despite enormous difficulty. It is a privilege just to be in your midst. You have embraced Paul’s words:
1. Hope lives in your heart.
2. Hope comforts your soul and mine.
3. Therefore, we rejoice in the Lord always, knowing that we can overwhelmingly conquer through Christ Jesus who loves us, strengthens us, and shed His blood for us.
Paul encourages us to abide in Christ, to rest in Him, and remain in Him! We are reminded that when faith is founded on this one, sure Foundation, nothing can destroy our hope; demolish our faith; disturb our peace. We are more than conquers.
Each of us face our trials and trouble. Having hope does not fix everything, but we have a greater source to go to than ourselves. This God communes with us, teach us, loves us and guides us.
Paul is content to wait expectantly, to live confidently, and to be filled with hope.
Sermon Delivered by: Rev. Dr. Mark Mueller in the National Evangelical Church of Al Rabiye
Executive Director: The Outreach Foundation
Franklin, Tennessee, USA
May 15, 2022
Text: Romans 8 37-39