Four reasons for hope in the coming year

Someone may speculate that hospitals and funeral homes will somehow have far fewer customers this new year. I disagree.

Someone may suppose this will be the year for unprecedented world peace, for armies around the planet to disarm, for police forces to shrink drastically and pack up their pistols. I disagree.

Someone may hope for far fewer floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis in 2010.

I disagree.

Someone may imagine that by year’s end things will be remarkably better, both in our communities and world-wide, and that the solutions are primarily political, or essentially economic. I disagree.

Is it hopeless, then, to hope? Again, I disagree.

I follow Christ, so on one hand, I’m a realist. Jesus once said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11).

My Lord predicted regular wars and natural disasters, the increase of wickedness and the love of most growing cold as we get nearer to this world’s end (Matthew 24:7,12).

Most of all, Jesus diagnosed the disease’s heart. Twice he told his disciples — devout men — “You are evil” (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13).

In a fallen world full of people rebelling against their Maker, can anyone legitimately look on the bright side? Yes.

I’m optimistic. You can be too. Why?

n God is gracious. Therefore he sent his Son, Jesus, to rescue us all, by living a holy life and dying an innocent death in our place.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

n Jesus, who rose from the dead to give us life with him, is tender to those tentative in faith.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Matthew 12:20).

n Jesus is patient. That’s why Judgment Day wasn’t yesterday.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

n Jesus is compassionate. For instance, once someone with a vile skin disease came for healing.

“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’” (Mark 1:41).

Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 747-5564. For more information, see Risen Savior will dedicate its new church building Jan. 24. Faith Matters is a regular feature of the Herald, written by local clergy members.