Several years ago, a friend invited me to have coffee with Dr. David Aikman, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, author, and founder of Gegrapha, a global fellowship of Christian journalists. Aikman, having recently transitioned from a 23-year career as a TIME Magazine senior correspondent, had just endured a hard two-year season in his life, experiencing a painful divorce, the total loss of his financial security, and the death of his mother from a terminal illness.
At the same time, he was in the process of publishing his new book, Hope: The Heart’s Great Quest. In his exhaustive study on this theological truth, he concluded that hope is the deepest longing of our heart and the healing source that brings light into our darkest moments of grief and despair. Having recently faced many Job-like events in his own life, Dr. Aikman discovered that hope in Jesus Christ is “the glorious assurance of the anchoring of our destiny, both in this life and the next, to the extraordinary act of mercy and love performed on behalf of the human race by God through His Son Jesus Christ.”¹
As we continue our strategic focus to re-envision the SBC Chaplaincy into the present decade and beyond, we must never lose sight of the timeless message that Jesus Christ is the foundation of our chaplaincy ministry vision and, as Aikman wrote, “the anchor of our destiny, both in this life and the next.”
Today’s increasingly secular culture can easily discourage us to think otherwise. It would have us take on a pessimistic attitude regarding the threat of global warming, emerging infectious diseases, political intrigue, racial divisiveness, national and global unrest, or legal challenges to the freedom of religion. My brother and sister chaplains, is gloom and doom all that we have to offer the world? The Lord has called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light”, and this is our time to punch holes in the darkness with the awesome light of Jesus Christ that lives in us!
Despite current obstacles to your ministry of presence as a chaplain, due to the coronavirus pandemic, (social isolation, virtual ministry, economic downturn, etc.), you must remain faithful and passionate agents of hope to those you serve in your respective institutional environments.
In a few short weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the gift of everlasting hope we have through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now is a good time to reinvigorate ourselves in the hope we have in our Risen Lord.
William Gurnall, an English Puritan (1617-1679), offers some practical advice on how to strengthen our hope: “First, study the Word of God diligently. Second, keep a pure conscience. Third, ask God for a stronger hope. Fourth, increase your love. Fifth, exercise your hope. Sixth, recall past mercies from God.” The good news about hope is that it can produce a smile even while the tears run down our faces.
Hope encourages us to endure temporary afflictions because help is already on the way. Hope comforts us with the promise that the “long, dark night of the soul” is temporary because joy will come in the morning. Hebrews 6:18-20 exhorts us to “…seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God, Himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, and where Jesus, our forerunner, has gone in before us.”(TPT)
Hope boldly shouts, “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!”
¹David Aikman, Hope: The Heart’s Great Quest. (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1995), 165..
Published February 25, 2021