Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hope In Christ

Hello—I am Dan Hernandez. Please don’t forget to roll the “r,” and the “e” at the end is not a long “e”.

I know, you are probably thinking, this guy has issues. You’re right, but don’t worry, I have some in my congregation who will point these things out again and again, and that’s always fun.

I have been a pastor for over 25 years, and absolutely love it! Ministering to people and watching them grow as I myself mature in the Lord is my greatest blessing. Over the years I have walked with many who have found themselves in valleys too dark and difficult to describe. I have wept with mothers who have had to bury their children. I have caught the salty tears of teenagers who through no fault of their own lost a mom and dad, and were forced to walk on totally unfamiliar and lonely paths. I personally lay in ICU fighting for my own life, listening to doctors and nurses scrambling to keep me here. I clearly remember lying there now on the 9th floor out of imminent danger, watching the second hand on the bold face of the clock in my room. I found myself measuring time by minutes. Life is crazy like that at times. We might not find ourselves in a hospital ER, but life sure throws at us things that warrant ICU attention.

This is written to those of you, especially men and women in ministry, who find themselves not on top of the world, but rather under one. Your question isn’t “why?” but, “does anyone even care?” In the most difficult times in my life I have discovered the most wonderful significance of HOPE. We preach on faith, and we have series on love, but hope seems to fall off the radar screen when we think of Christian virtues.

I am convinced that strength, and I mean God sized strength, is unleashed within us when we are convinced our lives have a purpose yet to be fulfilled. This reality is magnified when we choose a purpose beyond ourselves. It is not only essential to keep hope alive; it is hope that keeps us alive. The most tragic reality is that to give up on hope is to become paralyzed in the present, and to begin to live in the past. Oh, to be filled with a passionate urgency fueled by a real sense of destiny!

One of the most quoted proverbs of Solomon is that "without vision the people will perish." He also said, "hope deferred makes a heart sick." He seems to be telling us that we need to have a dream we are pursuing, and at the same time experience enough of that dream to keep us inspired. We need to both aspire and accomplish. Without a vision for your life, without a sense of purpose, you will begin to die a slow death.

At the same time, if hope seems only an illusion, if you give up on hope, your heart and soul will become sick. Remember, it is not only essential to keep hope alive; it is hope that keeps us alive. Hope is the fuel through which we create the future. The apostle Peter writes that he was injected, given a lively HOPE! If you are not looking toward the future, you do not have one.

Please don’t mistake my words as making small the valley or situation you face today, all I ask is that you look up. Look within. Sometimes our crises are solved by moving from success to significance, or from failure to significance. One should outgrow success and must press through failure. Isn’t the real issue not “success" or "failures," but rather making a real difference, living a life that counts? And a life that counts is one not measured by successes or failures, but rather by a HOPE that goes beyond all that life throws our way.

OUR HOPE IS IN CHRIST

By Pastor Dan Hernandez
Water of Life Ministries
Rockford, IL.

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