Formations 04.26.2020: More than Hope

Hebrews 10:19-25

What do you need most right now? While we’re all in this pandemic together, our individual situations are unique. Our pain is our own. Our grief is ours to bear. The events, people, and normality we miss belong to us as individuals.

As I have during other difficult circumstances in my life, I find myself clinging to hope. Emily Dickinson wrote that

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

I appreciate this image of hope. When I’m feeling frustrated, scared, or lonely during this time of uncertainty, I can picture that little bird sitting on her branch, singing her heart out, ready to take flight at any moment. Hope is the potential for something better. Right now, I need hope. But I also need more than hope.

Every day I read the latest articles on the COVID-19 pandemic. I continue to hope for better news, for fewer cases, for a cure. So far, the main theme of these articles focuses on what is still unknown about the virus. At this time, there is no true end in sight regarding the need to be socially distant, to stay home, to resist returning to “normal life.” Hope keeps me attentive to what might be, but right now I need confidence. I need assurance.

The words of our lesson text from Hebrews 10 remind me that I already have what I need. The writer says,

…since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

The confidence and assurance in this passage remind us of why we celebrate what Jesus did for us during his last week of human life. Jesus gave us more than hope; he gave us confidence and assurance that we can approach God forevermore because of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

There’s a lot that I don’t know right now. Even so, I have great hope for our future. And better than that, I have confidence and assurance of God’s presence with me right now through Jesus. That knowledge helps me walk through these strange days and be the best person I can be. How about you?

Discussion

• What gives you the strength to keep getting out of bed each day to do the same thing you did yesterday (and the day before that and the day before that…)?
• How is your mental health right now? What can you do to get help if you need it?
• What is your source of hope these days?
• What is the difference between having hope and having confidence and assurance?
• How does the promise of Easter Sunday help you in such an uncertain time?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her daughters, Samantha (15) and Natalie (12), and her husband John. Occasionally, she appears onstage in community theater productions and can sometimes be found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, and she’s still trying to write a young adult novel that her girls will enjoy.

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