Hope out of the ashes

OPINION | Tim Costello

Sunday 3 March 2013

We have just come off another Christmas where Australians spent literally billions of dollars on presents. Then came the Boxing Day sales when we spent even more. And with the increasing popularity and ease of online purchases, many of us even sat in front of the computer and shopped on Christmas Day.

A materialistic culture that lives only for today and doesn’t take time to reflect is a culture that has lost hope. The mantra of such a culture is the age-old “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

St Paul discussed this in his first letter to the Corinthians. In talking about the resurrection of the dead, Paul is echoing the words of . In that passage, the prophet warns of a judgment to come. God’s intention in this passage, as always, is for his people to turn their lives around and find real life. Instead though they settle for something less and live out the lifestyle of a culture that has lost hope, living as if there is no tomorrow.

But our faith is one that shows us the reality and the hope of a new day, a new beginning. Already in this new year we have seen much that is wrong in the world. In our own backyard we have once again been ravaged with the devastation of bushfires. As paradoxical as it seems, the sadness that follows tragic events can actually let us rediscover hope. As believers, we know that there will be a day when such tragedy will be no more. This does not of course take away from the sadness and pain that people feel when devastating events overtake them, but it does help us cope when we could so easily despair.

As a Christian organisation, the work of World Vision is also about hope and new beginnings. Our Easter campaign this year focuses on an African country familiar to most of us: Rwanda. The reason for our familiarity with Rwanda is because of another tragedy that is still quite a recent memory for many of us – the genocide of 800,000 people in 1994.

Rwanda though is also a country of new beginnings, and there is much to be hopeful about as the people work hard to put the past behind them. Take the story of a young boy named Pacifique. His mother, Anastasi, used to struggle to grow enough food and Pacifique would often eat just one meal a day. Thanks to our child sponsors, Anastasi has learned how to grow more food, earn money and save. As a result, Pacifique can now look forward to a happy and healthy future.

This is just one example of God at work bringing renewal to a tired and weary world. The One who came to bring good news to the poor has done exactly that for young Pacifique and his family.

The deepest desire of the human heart is for renewal; to be connected with our Creator in relationship and to join with Christ in the renewal of all things. At the beginning of a new year, let’s surrender our lives to the God of new beginnings so that we can work with Christ to build new beginnings for others.

Tim Costello is CEO of World Vision Australia.


Listen

22:1 The oracle concerning the valley of vision.

What do you mean that you have gone up,
all of you, to the housetops,
you who are full of shoutings,
tumultuous city, exultant town?
Your slain are not slain with the sword
or dead in battle.
All your leaders have fled together;
without the bow they were captured.
All of you who were found were captured,
though they had fled far away.
Therefore I said:
“Look away from me;
let me weep bitter tears;
do not labor to comfort me
concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people.”

For the Lord God of hosts has a day
of tumult and trampling and confusion
in the valley of vision,
a battering down of walls
and a shouting to the mountains.
And Elam bore the quiver
with chariots and horsemen,
and Kir uncovered the shield.
Your choicest valleys were full of chariots,
and the horsemen took their stand at the gates.
He has taken away the covering of Judah.

In that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, and you saw that the breaches of the city of David were many. You collected the waters of the lower pool, 10 and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. 11 You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago.

12 In that day the Lord God of hosts
called for weeping and mourning,
for baldness and wearing sackcloth;
13 and behold, joy and gladness,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating flesh and drinking wine.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
14 The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:
“Surely this iniquity will not be atoned for you until you die,”
says the Lord God of hosts.

15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts, “Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the Lord will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you 18 and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. There you shall die, and there shall be your glorious chariots, you shame of your master’s house. 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. 24 And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. 25 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”

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