Against All Hope

Posted on May 15, 2015 in Sermons

May 10, 2015

Romans 5:1-11

Sermon by Helms Jarrell

tinkerbell

Trapped in darkness and captivity, she sat in the silence of despair.  It was practically impossible for her to find a way out.  All hope was lost.  She tried to cheer herself up, but she just couldn’t.  Her fate had been revealed and the agony was too difficult to withstand.  She wailed at the top of her lungs…

How could things have come to this?  Why was all this happening to her?  How would she get out of this torment?  Who would save her?  What could she do?

It didn’t help that she’d cut off from her friends lately.  Gosh!  She wished she could take it all back.  All the mean words.  All the times she ignored other people who needed her…the times she avoided the phone call of a high maintenance friend.

Last time she even saw her very best friend, they’d gotten into a big argument.  She’d basically told him that she didn’t ever want to see him again.  Would he even notice she wasn’t around?

A spark of hope rose out of her core.  She knew she could count on him to notice.  Even a big argument wouldn’t keep him away from caring for her.

Quietly, she waited.

Hours went by.  She thought of her life, of what she’d done and who’d she’d been.  She cried for her mistakes and reveled in the memories of good times.

A sound broke loose in the distance. A light gleamed from the underside of the door.

Tears of hope welled up in her eyes.  Could this be him?

The door crashed open and her cage was broken free.

Tinkerbell was reunited with her best friend, Peter Pan, and they would go off to save the day together!

 

Peter Pan came through for Tinkerbell.  She believed in him.  She had faith, that even in the midst of their disagreement, he would come to her rescue.

And he did.

Her faith in him was justified by his acts of faith and love toward her.

Relating scripture to a fairy tale may seem a bit silly and childish, but it is such a well-known story.  We can relate.

Abraham and Sarah lived in a time when almost all of a person’s  joy, self- worth, sense of purpose, power, and social status correlated to how many children one had.  Imagine if you were Abraham or Sarah, who had been praying all of their lives for children.  At 75 years old, God made a promise with Abram that he and Sarai would have children saying, “  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever cruses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  25 years went by and Abraham and Sarah had no children.  I can imagine, as I guess you could too, that perhaps they’d gotten a little concerned a time or two over those 25 years of waiting.  Maybe God was just kidding.  Maybe the joy of the promise wasn’t really theirs to behold.  I bet on their worst days, they cried with worry, thinking the promise of God had been lost.

Even in the midst of uncertainty, they remained faithful to God.  They held fast to the promise that God would keep God’s promise.  They made it to 100 years old when messengers sent word to Abraham and Sarah that it was time. She would become pregnant.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope, believed and so became the father of many nations…just like God had told him he would.

Scripture says, “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-  since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what God had promised.

Abraham’s faith in God was justified by God’s acts of faith and love toward Abraham.

In our darkest moments, when all seems lost….when we are constantly reminded of injustice and the brokenness of our world…when all we see is despair, when because of situations around us, we are forced to reckon with the darkness of our own sin and faults….when we feel trapped in the mistakes we can’t seem to undo… We may feel no sense of peace…no inkling of joy…no beam of hope.  And we may cry out:  “How could things have come to this?  Why is all this happening?  How can I get out of this torment?  What can we do? Who will save us?”

In these, our most hopeless moments, we must remember God’s faithfulness.  We must plunge into the promise of God and come up strong, ready for God, sure that God will make good on what God had said.

We must embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless.

As the message version of scripture says,

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

 

Our faithful God has come through for us.  God has set us aright. Even when we were at our worst, we were made one with God by the acts of his Son, Jesus.  God is faithful.

Now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!  We live out our praises in word and deed!  We practice this good news of faithful rescue and joyful resurrection.

With singing and shouting, with lighting a candle and praying, with serving and sharing, ..with as many ways as we know how, we may show all we meet that,

“Yes!  Our faith in God is justified.  God’s has acted, is acting, and will act in faith and love toward every one of us. Forevermore”

 

Amen.  May it be so.