Ephesians 1:18b “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…”
If God has called you, that makes you a special person. When I receive a call to go and serve some other congregation as its pastor, sometimes it seems like a nuisance. Many hours will be needed to investigate the two ministries before me: the one I have and the one inviting me to come and serve. There will be phone calls, searching questions, sometimes a gut-wrenching decision. It can seem like a distraction from the work of the ministry.
But that is wrong. In the call God is telling me, “I haven’t forgotten about you. I still have a special purpose for your life. I have singled you out to serve me, and I want you to think about what that means for a little while.”
Most of you haven’t been called to be pastors, but God has given you an even more important and more fundamental call. He has called you to be his children by faith. He has singled you out to know him as your dear Father, to see his Son Jesus become your real brother, to discover the ultimate act of love for you in Jesus’ death on the cross, to receive forgiveness for all your sins, to be free from every guilty burden that has weighed on your soul, to live each moment of your life under the smiling face of a gracious God, and to know that it all only gets better after you die.
In short, he has called you to hope. You may not look any different after you have been called to faith. Your skin tone doesn’t change with the removal of sin. You don’t stretch up several inches after the guilty burden has been removed. You aren’t suddenly immune to all the world’s dangers, and the grass doesn’t turn gold beneath your feet. Yet somehow, the world looks different. Your life looks different. Everything that happens looks different. To borrow a turn of phrase from the movie The Santa Clause, it’s not that seeing is believing. Rather, believing is seeing. By bringing you his gospel, and calling you to faith, God has given you hope.
God’s hope makes all the difference, because God’s hope is certain. Everybody wants a better future. That’s why politicians try to inspire a sense of hope in their political campaigns. That’s why people from so many parts of the world bring their hopes for a better life to America. But hope that is built on human calculations and planning is nothing more than a wish. We neither know nor control the future. It is a dream that offers comfort, but it may be nothing more than an illusion.
The hope to which God has called us cannot fail. No one controls God, but God himself controls the future. He does exactly what he pleases, and he never changes. If he makes a promise, he always keeps it. Nothing can stand in his way. If he says he forgives our sins, he does–every time! If he says he will give us eternal life, he does! We are living in it already! The hope we have in him is the only hope that comes with an absolutely unbreakable, unfailing guarantee.
Do you know what that means? It means that Lutheran Church Father C.F.W. Walther was 100 percent correct when he said, “Der Christ ist ein optimist.” I’ll bet you can already translate the German. “The Christian is an optimist.” We know that the future is good. For those God has called, with fists full of his promises, even the parts of the future that are bad are good. We have certain hope! This hope frees us from anxiety. It makes us patient as we struggle through more difficult days now in anticipation of what lies ahead. At all times, in every circumstance, we have hope because God has called us to be his own.