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Hope from Despair

Sermon preached by
The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman
22nd June 2003

Many of us have had experiences that have been truly very frightening.

We feel powerless, desperate, frustrated and even angry.

The situation looks hopeless and there’s no way out – it’s a scary place to be.

That’s the kind of situation the disciples found themselves in when the storm broke out over the Sea of Galilee.

Some of them had spent much of their working lives in boats and on the lake and they knew what kind of a storm was brewing. They must have spent a great deal of effort and expertise in trying to control the situation themselves only to find they could not.

It was beyond their experience or control. In desperation the disciples wake Jesus and ask Him for help. Jesus gets up, calms the storm and then asks the disciples where their faith had gone.

He demonstrates, just as God had done with Job, that He is in complete control of everything, including creation and out of chaos and disorder He brings peace, calm and hope.

Storms happen at any time and in any place – so the chances are we’ll be in one sometime. So how do we cope?

Do we try to manage on our own as the disciples did, or do we turn to Jesus and ask for help?

Do we turn inwardly to ourselves or outwardly to God? Because generally turning inwards leads to fear and worry.

Turning outwards to God, in faith, leading to peace, calm and hope, even in the middle of the storm.

I saw a survey on the internet about worry.

Of the 100% of worrying we do…

  • 40% of the events we worry about never happen
  • 35% of the events can’t be changed
  • 15% of the events turn out much better than expected
  • 8% of the events are so petty they don’t matter
  • 2% of the events may have been helped if we’d worried because we might have done something about things…

So apart from anything else, worrying really isn’t a good use of time. All that ends up is that we get more and more fearful of an event which probably won’t even happen!

Very simplistically, fear and faith can be seen as being at opposite ends of the spectrum.

  • Fear represents a lack of faith; faith represents a lack of fear
  • Faith leads to hope; fear leads to despair
  • Hope brings peace; fear eats it away
  • Through faith we can have hope, even when the storm breaks

Look what happened to Job and his friends when they tried to sort things out themselves. It’s almost like some kind of bizarre drama. They go round in circles three times, debate and lamented the situation, and then Elihu appears, and still they get nowhere.

Finally God comes in to set everything straight.

The solution to the situation was outside themselves and in God, who’d been there all the time. In God they have hope, when the situation looked hopeless, just as the disciples found.

Part of our role as Christians is to help people see outside themselves to the hope which is in Jesus. To call in God before it’s too late.

The Church of England is promoting a video called ‘Restoring Hope’ (in the Church). It speaks of 3 ways we can work as a church to restore hope:

  • Be involved in the local community
  • Set up small groups where people can discus and develop their faith
  • Prayer, spending time with God. So that He can enter into situations, and bring hope
    Because He has control and authority over all situations and circumstances. Which is why we, and all who profess that faith can have hope, both now, and in the future

     

Amen

Bible Readings and Notes for 22nd June 2003

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