Vol. 30 Num. 1
“The Ground and Substance of all our Hopes”
In the beginning of a new year, we often devote ourselves afresh to important principles and goals for our lives and families. We also look back, reflecting and reassessing the events of the year past: happy and sad, triumphant and tragic.
There will be many within our congregation for whom 1996 was filled with inexpressible grief. These may have been private griefs known to few (or none), but which have broken the heart, or public griefs, in which we found support in the midst of our losses and crosses from friends and family. Surely, these folk must be wondering what the future holds for them.
Others in our church family may recount the victories and blessings of 1996 among the sweetest in life: answered prayers for which we had never dreamt how wonderful God’s answer would be, the gift of children, or marriage, or meaningful vocation, or financial prosperity, or family love and tranquility. And those blessed, too, will be wondering: what next in God’s plan?
For most, however, 1996 was somewhere in between: filled with favors and difficulties, but neither the best nor the worst of times. Whatever our individual circumstances may be, all of us would do well to reconsider our Spiritual priorities in the dawn of this new year. And while we do so, we also do well to reevaluate our dependence on God’s grace.
Many years ago Robert Hawker said: “I am every day more and more convinced that the lack of living wholly upon Christ is the sole cause why so many of God’s children go lean from day to day.” In your prosperity or poverty are you going lean? Are you finding joy in the midst of hardship, because of the sense of Christ’s presence? Are you unimpressed with the best of the world’s treasures because your treasure is hid away in Christ? You see, one key to Spiritual growth is complete dependence on Christ.
If I may paraphrase some important counsel from Robert Hawker’s, The Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions (an excellent devotional book which I recommend to you all): The Christ of God is the whole of salvation in the Lord’s arrangement. Therefore, the believer who really and truly knows and accepts the Lord Jesus in this comprehensive way must be, in his or her growth in sanctification, completely dependant upon Christ for God’s glory and his or her own happiness. The source of our growth and felicity (that real and profound happiness and contentment that worldlings think they can find apart from God) is Christ. And so, as we purpose to grow in grace this year, we must purpose not trust in our feelings, nor our moral virtues, nor our holiness, nor our pious desires, nor even in our faith (which is but an instrument of grace, not the basis of it) but in Jesus the Christ. He is the ground and substance of all our hopes.