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By Philipp Rüsch
Europe, Global, NW Europe
Many of us are grieving these days. We all have lost things in the past weeks of the coronavirus crisis. Thankfully, not all of us have lost people we love, but we have lost our sense of security, freedom of movement, our routines and habits, simply touch, and much more we will only realize after a while or when we are trying to get back to “normal.”

It is important to recognize this and to allow feelings of discomfort. It is ok to not always be happy-clappy, joy-sparking and dancing around. Let us allow space for the whole palette of emotions. We are human beings, after all. And let us be patient with each other as we are adjusting to and coping with times of change.

I think to some degree we have idolized being happy in our Western societies, and thus are feeling like a failure when we are not filled with positive feelings. But when we read the Bible, especially the psalms, we read of grief and lament more than of joy and praise (e.g. Psalms 41, 56 and 59). Two-thirds of the psalms are considered psalms of lament. Now why do I share this when the headline to this article is “hope”? Because I want to ensure we are not confusing hope with happy and/or wishful thinking. Real, true hope is so much more powerful than happiness can ever be.

The Bible shows us how we can grieve with hope. Even in the deepest sorrow, hope is lurking. When we read David’s psalms of the times when he was hiding, fleeing, fearing for his life (e.g. 34, 35 and 64) we see a deep trust in God – a hope that God has the situation under control and that God is at work and will bring about good.

The hope Jesus teaches us is not that for an easy life. He does not promise his followers that nothing bad will happen to them; rather the opposite. Jesus has prepared his disciples for suffering, wars, pandemics, etc. But he promised to be with us every day until he eventually returns (Matthew 28). God is with us. He is near to us. He wants to comfort and strengthen us. Today. Now. That is a reason for hope!
“We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” — Romans 5:2-5

God is a father who is not into pampering His children. He rather seeks to see them mature into strong, resilient people of faith and character (1 Corinthians 3). That is another reason for lasting hope: God is growing us through difficult experiences into people who can serve him for his glory.

During which times have you grown the deepest roots and learned the most in your life? For me those were the difficult and stormy ones, the times in hospital, the times of uncertainty, pain, and loss. These are times no one chooses willingly, but which we oftentimes would not want to miss in retrospect.

Some people say a crisis shows you how a person is really like. I think it is also true that these times shape us into what we will become. Let us practice the virtue of hope in Jesus today and be known as hopeful Christ followers.
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