1 Peter 3:13-18
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ maybe ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit,”
A couple of weeks ago Kevin spoke to us about taking out our trash and allowing the garbage man to take it away. He used comedy to demonstrate the point that he was making and he did an amazing job at encouraging us to leave our ‘trash in the trash can so that garbage man can take it away’. Another analogy of this is backing our dump truck of sins up to the cross, pulling the dump lever, driving forward. Getting out, grabbing the front end loader and reloading our dump truck.
I sat and listened to him speak and the question came to mind my; “what if I have willingly left my stuff in the trash can and I am waiting for the garbage man to come and take it away?”
I want to talk to you about my personal story a little bit, some of the things that I have been going through for the last few years has come to a head the last 12 months. I want to talk about my family, the struggle that we have encountered, the mess we have repeatedly brought to the garbage can and waited sometimes not very patiently for immediate removal of the trash.
I have been divorced from my first wife since 2009. We have 3 daughters, they have all lived with me since the separation. My oldest is 14, she has significant mental, emotional and behavioral issues. She has had 6 hospitalization since 2014. Last September she went to live with my ex and came back home in January. It was not safe (homicidal ideation) for her to be living with my other children due to her threats, impulsivity and her inability to always talk before acting. She would frequently lose her ability to reason.
In the last 9 months there have been Child protection involvement, guardian ad litem reports, mediation three times, court a number of times, appointments to determine an appropriate diagnosis and an order for protection on the behalf of my children against my ex. My oldest and I slept in an apartment since we did not want her to have the opportunity to hurt anyone. We have had multiple professionals in our house, sometimes two or three at a time. There have been emotional highs, the county finally seeing the need for group home placement. Emotional lows, my ex not willing to allow my daughter to get the help and stability she deserves. Finally, the only way my ex would consider a group home is if I gave her my daughter for six months. “Here you go God, here is my trash, I have to trust you with it even though I know what needs to happen. Please God, get my daughter the help she needs and deserves. God, she is your kid long before she was my kid. I ask that you protect her and keep her safe. Give those people wisdom who can make decisions for her.”
I don’t have high hopes in my ex wife, I don’t have high hopes in the judge, court system or the county people who have deemed my ex ‘fit and capable’ to care for my daughter. Frankly, my ex has a hard enough time caring for herself much less another human being. Add to that a human being with a high level of needs.
This is where hope comes into play. We know that we are more than ready for God to take away our trash. We desperately are waiting, yearning for the garbage man to come. We put our trash out, we wait a week, we wait two weeks, we wait a month, we wait 6 months, we may even wait years. We call the company, they ensure us they are coming. They cannot give usa time or day that they are coming. Meanwhile our garbage starts rotting and stinking. We cannot stand to walk by it or drive by it. Our neighbors are wondering what is going on. The police are stopping by daily to see if everything is okay. You have a few friends who come over, accept you where you are at, stinking garbage and all.
We begin to isolate and not leave our house, people refuse to come over and visit. No matter how much we shower and wash our clothes the stench of our garbage contaminates everything. Our clothes, our skin, our house…EVERYTHING stinks. We might even begin to question God, his sovereignty, his plan and our relationship with him.
Hope is the confidence that we have things we do not yet see. Romans 8:22-30 (paraphrase) says this: All creation is groaning with the pains of labor, (your not alone) longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled in us and through us. (The garbage man comes and takes away our trash). Hope is in things that we do not see. There is no hope in those things that are visible. Our spirit groans within us when we cannot find the words to express our agony, our joy, our peace, our desperation with the way things are now.
God’s spirit intercedes for us when we are unable to utter the words to properly describe the ‘affliction’ that 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 talks about. God knows your heart.
Our hope is this:
1. Nothing can separate from the love of God or the salvation that he has freely given us. (Romans 8:37-39)
2. He has a plan for us, a good and perfect plan, it may not be comfortable, it may not be pleasant and in fact it maybe full of persecution. It is HIS plan, HIS perfect plan. It is for HIS glory and not your own. (Romans 8:28-29)
3. Even though our physical body maybe wasting away, Spiritually, emotionally, mentally we are being renewed daily. There is an eternal glory that we cannot imagine or describe. We cannot fathom the riches that God has stored away for us. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
4. God given. Jeremiah 29:10-14 says that God knows the plans he has for us, it may not happen today, tomorrow or next year. Israel had to wait through 70 years of captivity before they returned to the promised land. God’s command is trust me. The reward is living out God’s plan, hope given by God and a future directed by God.
What if the garbage truck doesn’t come this week, this month, this year, this decade or this century? Can you maintain your hope in Christ to provide you with peace, joy, love, acceptance?
What are you putting your hope in? The weekly service of the garbage company or the eternal promises of God? We cannot put our hope in a broken government, in a broken church, believe me there are broken churches, broken people, or broken systems. None of us would get into a car that had broken brakes and drive away and ‘hope’ we would be able to stop and avoid an accident. There is a known, visible system that is broken and in need of repair.
I think our lives are the same way. We need to get a spiritual tune-up from time to time and check our ‘hope system’.
In what ways do you need to repair your hope?
Finish the statement: “I hope that…”
What is your message of hope?
Are you ready to share it? 1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have.
My hope is in Christ and the promises that are in His Word. There are two knowns in life, our date of birth and our date of death. Is your hope in the new birth that Christ offers to you? My hope is in His plans, His wisdom, His grace, His salvation (past, present and future)
You are blessed if you are eager to do good, carry out good and are persecuted for doing those good deeds. Just like Christ. He did good, people had to make things up to get him to ‘look bad’ and killed him on the basis of those lies. His hope was in the Father. The one with the master plan. The one who created the earth and everything in it.
Don’t lose sight of the HOPE that Christ offers you and calls you too.