Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I want to extend greetings on behalf of myself and the MTEE family as we experience the remembrance of Christ’s great gift of His sacrifice on the cross for our forgiveness and the hope we find in His resurrection. When we talk of hope as believers, it is different than what others in the world express. When the Bible talks about hope, it takes on a whole new meaning. It talks about God as the object, source and fulfillment of our hope. It talks about a God of justice and mercy who will one day right all wrong, remove all pain, wipe away all tears, and vindicate us before our enemies. It talks about a God who promises us a future salvation through the resurrection of our bodies and eternal life and a God who, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has defeated death, hell, and the grave.
There are many references to this hope in the Bible. When we have biblical hope we have an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:17-20); we know God watches over us (Psalm 33:18, 31:24); we share our witness with others (1 Peter 3:15); and we are joyful (Romans 12:12). I know that we all live in a real world, with great difficulties, circumstances beyond our control and disappointments that can try to rob us of our hope in God. But at the point of our greatest need, we don’t need to live our lives controlled and dominated by these negative powers. Jesus has given us His word. He said, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The bottom line is that in this world we have tribulation, sorrow, pain, suffering and loss. God, however, is a promise maker and a promise keeper and has sent His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to overcome the world. The greatest evidence of God’s faithfulness is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A God-centered view of hope redefines our disappointments; reinterprets our suffering and reorders our realities.
Ultimately, a God-centered view of hope restores our joy. When disappointments have been redefined, our joy is restored. When our suffering has been reinterpreted, our joy is restored. When our reality has been enlarged to include God’s greater purpose at work in our lives and creation, our joy has been restored. We are surprised by joy. As Christians living in the Kingdom now, we have choices. By the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, we are no longer controlled by the power of this world, but rather we can choose to recognize God’s presence in the midst of our suffering and embrace it with joy.
God’s Spirit is a realist. He doesn’t deny disease, pain, or heartache. Rather, God testifies within us that the reality of hope is greater than despair, that faith is greater than distrust, that love is greater than fear. The Holy Spirit Himself groans within us and intercedes on our behalf in accordance with the will of God – and He comforts us. And we are surprised by joy. That is why the Bible tells us that, “weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
You are all in our thoughts and prayers. May you experience the joy of the Lord this Easter season, as you meditate on God’s great faithfulness to make promises and keep the promises He has made. May we rejoice in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He lives! And because He lives so can we!
In His love and service,
Pastor Ronald L. Bernier,