September 26, 2007

Words of Hope

2007 1527 page2 capn September 2006 I made a phone call to a friend of mine in Manado, Indonesia, who had lost his dear wife from cancer. For some time on the phone we exchanged words of lamentation over the loss of this loving Christian woman. As I listened to the words of this friend whose life was shattered by this loss, my heart went to the words of hope spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

Our heavenly Father is well aware of the toils and challenges of this sinful world we live in. It grieves God to see His children going through pain of any kind. God has a plan to bring all this to an end. He says, “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:5). He is preparing a better home for us.

2007 1527 page2During our waiting time on earth, our Father bids us trust Him. Our hearts can easily get troubled. We are troubled sometimes even by the apparent delay of the coming of our Lord Jesus. His words to us are “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

We have no other hope but this hope that Jesus is coming again. This is the blessed hope upon which hangs our anticipation of relief from torture and pain by sin and the devil. Paul exclaims and says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

When I contemplate a place where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4), it just overwhelms me with joy. It is good enough on earth when you spend a weekend or a summer holiday with people you love. But imagine 1,000 years with Jesus and with people we love! “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6). And it will be more than 1,000 years; it will be eternity!

Why would I, why would anyone, want to miss out on such an invitation of hope? Is it the desire for something firm on earth? Is it the desire for wealth on earth? Is it the desire for status on earth? “For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:16, 17). I hope the answer is that nothing will keep any of us from experiencing the fulfillment of that blessed hope, the hope of being united with our beloved ones and dwelling together for eternity with God.

Yours in hope,
Pardon Mwansa

Pardon Mwansa is a general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, Maryland. 


A Word From President Jan Paulsen

2007 1527 page32 caphere is hardly a biblical passage that is as well known among Adventists as John 14:1-3. The Adventist family around the world knows it by heart. It embodies our hope in a very concise and powerful way. It is a passage in which the Lord Himself makes a promise to His people and assures them that it will be fulfilled. Through it Jesus still speaks to us and encourages us with words of hope in our Christian pilgrimage. The words of hope present in the passage are needed today more than ever before by the human race. This is an age of fast and constant communication in which words play a central role. Most of the time the means of communication share with us words of death and suffering. The world needs a voice of hope and comfort. Since Jesus gave us words of hope, we should be that voice.

2007 1527 page32John 14:1-3 contains a fundamental contrast between departure and return, or separation and reunion. It is loaded with emotions—the emotions of friendship and love and the anticipated fear or uncertainty that separation creates. But there is also the exhortation to keep the hope alive in the anticipation of the return of Christ. Jesus sought to comfort the disciples “by speaking words of hope and courage. ‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ He said, ‘ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.’ What a comfort these words should be to us. Think of the work Christ is now doing in heaven—preparing mansions for His children” (Ellen G. White, Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 145).

The sermons for the readings of the Week of Prayer are based on that Advent passage. We thought it would be good for the church to revisit it in order for us to be reminded of our true spiritual roots and of the reason for our existence. John 14:1-3 contains words of hope whose content and meaning have been explored by different writers as they tried to make them relevant for the church today.

I would like to exhort the church to reread John 14:1-3. Let it be read in the privacy of our personal devotions, in the context of our family worship, in the gathering of the saints for worship. Let us listen to it together and let the living power of the Word of God impact us and renew our expectation of the soon return of Christ. May that recommitment to the coming Lord strengthen our willingness to go out and announce to the world that the King is coming.
Yours in the Christian hope,

Jan Paulsen

Jan Paulsen is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church.