As the weather finally turns to the season of spring, which the calendar states should have been the case days ago, I am reminded of the beginning of the baseball season. As a child , I lived in Cincinnati for five years during the heyday of the Big Red Machine. What a team! It seemed that every time I went to a game and looked out at the field there was an all-star at almost every position. I remember the electricity in the city when the Reds won the World Series in 1975 and 1976, but little did I realize then that the Reds would not win another World Series until 1990. By then, I was in the fall semester of my sophomore year at Capital and much had changed.
Having spent most of my childhood in northeastern Ohio, I had also begun to follow the Cleveland Indians. Do you remember the 1987 cover of Sports Illustrated declaring the Indians would win it all? We all know how that turned out. This year, the Cleveland Indians have been picked by Sports Illustrated to win it all as well. Taking the issue with Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley on the cover of Sports Illustrated out of my mailbox brought joy at first, but then a sense of “here we go again.” The memories of the World Series in 1995 and 1997 came to mind, when the winning of a championship was so close you could taste it. Don’t get me started on the Browns’ near misses in the 1980s. Fans of Cleveland professional teams have long been admired for their ability to “wait till next year,” and “hope springs eternal.” Whether the Cavaliers with the return of Lebron James can finally bring a championship back to Cleveland this year or not, we know that our hope is not based on the outcomes of our favorite sports teams.
When I typed in the word “hope” in my oremus Bible browser, the search produced 207 verses in which this word was mentioned including all of the apocryphal books in the Bible. Here are a few of these verses:
“For you, O LORD, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.”(Psalm 71:5)
“O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.”(Psalm 130:7)
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and for harm, to give you a future with hope.”(Jeremiah 29:11)
“And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”(Matthew 12:21)
“But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.”(Luke 24:21)
“And endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”(Romans 5:4-5)
“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”(Romans 8:24-25)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”(Romans 12:12)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13)
“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”(1 Corinthians 13:7)
“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”(1 Corinthians 13:13)
“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”(1 Corinthians 15:19)
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1)
The hope that is given to us by God through Jesus Christ can never be taken away. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has made possible the reality of hope not only in the future but also in our present reality as we are a new creation in Christ and are empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to have hope now. Regardless of how our favorite sports teams fare in any given season, our hope is a gift that comes from God on a daily basis. We do not have to “hope for the best,” because God always gives the best! Thanks be to God!
Living in God’s amazing grace,
Pastor Matthew Groenke