PASTORAL CARE: Four Things to Keep You Hopeful

By Jim Hartz

We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the official beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has been a long, hard, faith-testing, life-changing year.  Millions have died and many millions infected.  The whole world has been impacted by this disease. But as we look to the future there is uncertainty, and also, hope.

Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access to the grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we even boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance and endurance, proven character and proven character, hope and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

So, as we look to 2021, I want to encourage chaplains to do, and exhort others to do, the following:

Have faith in Jesus.  My word for every day is, “God is in control,” and we, through faith in Christ, can have peace in the midst of life’s trials. As Hebrews 11:1 says:  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Open your eyes to the glory of God.  I am often guilty of limiting my vision to the problem in front of me and not to the future and the hope (Jer. 29:11) that we are promised and is revealed as we look to our glorious God—our Creator, Redeemer and LORD of absolutely everything.  We have hope because our God is sovereign in every circumstance.

Persevere in affliction.  We who have accepted the mantle of our calling to chaplaincy must remember that we are at war.  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you … rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed (1 Pet. 4: 12-13).” 1 Peter 4:19 continues the thought: “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good (1 Pet. 4:19).”

Expect to receive the love of God through the Holy SpiritOur hope is not a pie-in-the-sky dream of better days ahead.  We are promised in the word of God that if we hold fast to Christ and the promise of His ministry, death and glorious resurrection as our only hope, we will not be disappointed, but will see Him in His glory and rest in His love. (Rev 21:1-9)

May God bless you in 2021!

Published February 25, 2021

Jim Hartz

Jim Hartz, NAMB Chaplaincy Pastoral Care Manager, provides pastoral care oversight to Southern Baptist chaplains and their families. He is supported in this effort by his wife, Dee, and nine Chaplain Ambassadors.