Hope during times of hopelessness.

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Teaching Segment Notes by Susan Suzuki
December 17th, 2013

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”  Martin Luther King

This is my spiel I gave on Sunday night as I spoke about Hope the last of our seven values at The Commons (or my notes anyways).

When I saw this video, I thought the kid who stole the medicine could have been a kid from our own Beasley neighbourhood.  Watching this video gave me hope, hope that there are people who live in our neighbourhood that care, that care enough to help someone in need.  It also gave me hope that if you do good, it will spread and come back to you tenfold.  That God remembers the good you’ve done.

The Commons definition of Hope: We live in a changing world that is in constant flux. Hope is the spirit that is needed to shape that change into something good.  We believe that life is a meaningful event with purpose and that God has amazing things in store for us and our city.  Although the video is from Thailand, it really reflected this for me.

When I was in Africa, I witnessed an amazing act of Hope.  I was in this small rural village and everyone living in the village had gathered in the centre of town one night.  When I asked what was going on, I was told there was a man who had stolen from another man.  Instead of punishing him, I was told when someone does something wrong, they take that person to the centre of town and the village comes together and surrounds that person with love.  They tell the person all the good things they’ve done. The tribe believes that everyone comes into the world deserving love and happiness.  But, sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes.

I was able to watch this tribe band together for one of their own, to hold him up, to reconnect with him, to remind him what a great person he is, until he remembered the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected.  I watched as they reminded him of the time he helped a neighbour carry water, when he had extra eggs that he shared, when he let someone borrow his bike, when he helped a family fix the roof of their home and so on.  It was amazing to see this village come together and show this man so much love.

Nothing gives people hope like a dose of encouraging words delivered from the heart. In a world where selfishness and sharp words prevail, people want to hear reassuring words.

One of the Bible stories that I turn to when I’m feeling down is that of Jesus and the disciples caught in a storm in the middle of the night as they are sailing across the sea. They ask Jesus, “don’t you care that we are perishing?” Jesus calms the sea, saying, “Peace. Be still.” (Mark 4:35-41).

There are all kinds of storms in our lives – things that seem uncontrollable and bring chaos and fear into our lives.

It’s been said “sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes the Lord lets the storm rage, and calms his child.” We may not be able to control the storm, but we can calm ourselves and bring hope to others by sharing what we have, by focusing on what we truly value, and finding others who will share the journey with us.

As I prepared for tonight, I was reminded of when I worked in the North End, there was this boy Pat and he told me that he was hungry one night.  When I asked why he didn’t go home to eat he told me there was no food at home because his dad spent all his money on drugs.  So I shared half of my sandwich with him.

I asked Pat, once what he wanted to be when he got older and he said he was going to end up like his dad with no job and addicted to drugs.  I remember telling him that was not true.

So fast-forward a couple of years…

Pat tracked me down and told me he had never forgotten the conversations we used to have. That he remembered that I had told him if he stayed in school, worked hard and had faith, things would work out.  He also remembered the sandwich I shared with him and had bought a pizza for us to share.  Then he gave me a big hug.  As I stood there trying not to cry, I realized that in some small way I had given Pat some hope for a better future. That I had done something right.

Hope is looking forward to something with a feeling of expectation. If you have God in your heart you will have hope.

When Jesus rose from the dead, the inner reality of sensing God’s presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit replaced the old way of relating to God through outward temple rituals. God has poured out his Spirit upon all his people and written his law on their hearts, just as Hebrew prophets predicted (Jeremiah 31, 2-14).

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