Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
CHRIST WHO GIVES HOPEFUL VISIONActs 9:10-18
Hopelessness is something most people have felt at one point or another in their lives. During such times it is usually difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the midst of despair, we can be reminded of a blessing Paul utters in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
It is likely that early Jewish converts to Christianity had stints of hopelessness as they were being ostracized by the people of their own community on one side and faced persecution from the Romans on the other side. We see that Saul of Tarsus was at the forefront of this persecution. Being zealous in his faith and believing he was doing the work of God, he relentlessly tried to crush the ministry. This continued until Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. We see now a completely transformed Saul but how would the community of believers ever accept this man who made it his mission to eliminate them? We can imagine how much the believers would have been strengthened by witnessing their opponent coming to a knowledge of Christ and becoming one of the most fervent apostles traveling to many places and spreading the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We can also conceive of the hopelessness that Saul was feeling. He was committing atrocious acts in the name of God and was directly responsible for the death of Stephen. Only after his encounter with Jesus was he able to “see” the error of his ways and at that same time he lost his physical sight. At this point he probably felt dejected and hopeless, wondering if his sins were forgivable, possibly thinking his blindness was punishment for his actions. In the midst of his circumstances, Jesus sends Ananias to restore his vision and baptize him into the community of believers as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Ananias addresses him as “Brother Saul” and heals him; it was not only a restoration of vision but a restoration of the entire man.
Let us also submit ourselves to God, to remove the scales from our eyes and restore hope in our lives and remember the promise we see in scripture, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 33:18)
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a God who gives hope to the hopeless. Please help us to always put our hope in you when we feel despair. Please remove the scales from our eyes that prevent us from seeing that when we put our trust in you, all hopeless situations become redeemable. In Jesus' name; Amen.
The Mar Thoma Church Staten Island, New York