I thought this article
in the Washington Post today provided quite a stark contrast for the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Though the main focus of the article is a blind girl and her perfume-making experience, it also talks about her making "1,000 paper cranes as a symbol of hope for her mother, who has breast cancer."
Later in the article her mother is quoted: "Whenever I have a bad day, I'm able to think about the cranes. I can't allow myself to have too much of a pity party because it's such a gesture of hope."
I don't mean to be cynical or uncaring, but the concept of 1,000 paper cranes providing hope seems a bit silly to me.
But perhaps it is the best the world has to offer.
Christians, on the other hand, can hope in something more enduring than paper cranes, or abstract expressions of hope.
We can confidently rest in the knowledge of God, that He loves us, that he is working out all things for our good (indeed, for our sanctification). And we have hope — confident expectation — in the future, because we know that future glory awaits.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Another contrast comes from Mexico. Several of my friends are on a 7-week missions trip, ministering in churches and Bible colleges scattered across Mexico. From a recent update
Mr. Goldfuss took us to the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Although I had heard a lot about Catholicism, I had never quite experienced the effects of its grip on people before. I watched as first a pregnant woman and then an old lady slowly hobbled toward the church on their knees. Everywhere I looked, there were more people desperately searching for peace. There were lines of people waiting outside the confession booths. It was heartbreaking to see the oppression and hopelessness in their eyes. The thought struck me that I could very well have been one of those people, had it not been for the Lord’s mercy toward me. Never before had my salvation meant so much to me. With tears streaming down my face, I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to share His good news, not only here in Mexico this summer, but every day of my life wherever I am.
We take so much for granted. But for God's grace, I could be hobbling on my knees toward that statue, vainly hoping to impress God with my piety. But for His grace, I could be that rebellious "bus-kid" that I ministered to last week, who, though in 6th grade, can't read, has the attention span of a gnat, and the personality and attitude of a WWF wrestler. But for His grace, I could be a humanist, enjoying life and exulting in the accomplishments of man, but with no thought of my eternal destiny. "But God . . ."
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.