“I would like to say a special thank you to the staff, volunteers and supporters of HOPE South Florida! After finding crisis housing in your Faith-In-Action program, I now know I am loved, not alone, and have hope for a brighter future. Thank you for taking such great care of my daughter and I during our time of need.”
Believe it or not, Asia’s words are meant for you. Whether or not you have volunteered or financially supported HOPE South Florida, Asia’s words beautifully describe the transforming power of encountering God’s people as they live out their calling to be a people of peace.
Knowing you are loved
The gospel reminds us that we are loved, accepted and approved of – more than we could ever dare dream or imagine. No matter what we’ve been through, no matter what we’ve done or left undone, our brokenness, our ugliness and our secrets, cannot separate us from the love of God.
God knows that, in one way or another, we’re hurt. He knows that we need to be tenderly called back into a trusting relationship with him in the midst of our pain. Jesus walks besides us, entering into our pain and reminds us that he’s there, he loves us, and he’s for us.
Knowing you are not alone
Now that the holidays are behind us, it is easy to forget that just like the lowly peasant people God chose in Mary and Joseph, the people God embraces are often enslaved, broken, bruised and battered. As Professor Chuck DeGroat of Western Seminary puts it, “They [the people of God] are most often not the ‘who’s who’ or cream of the crop. They may be nobodies, but they are not unknown. God has not forgotten them and he will not leave them or forsake them.” Through Jesus, God will show endless, compassionate love towards them.
Over time, life’s painful twists and turns begin to erode our sense of trust and hope. We begin to let our experiences eat away at our ability to find rest and the motivation to want something better for ourselves. Whether through getting caught up in living out our New Year’s resolutions, or the disappointment of failure, we forget that the Creator of the universe knows our name and, through Jesus, demonstrates his heart for us by coming near to us each and every day, relentlessly showing us compassionate love. Our hope is found in a God who is absolutely unwilling to be deterred by our failure, shame and disappointments – however deep they may be.
A people of peace
We all have our own way of looking for peace. For some of us this journey means turning to medication, self-help books, volunteerism, friendships, material possessions, and even drugs and alcohol – all with the same root desire: peace.
The gospel reminds us that Jesus was given to us and for us, to establish permanent peace between God and us. Now, those who live in light of this new reality can be deployed into their communities and spheres of influence as people of peace, reminding people like Asia that they are loved and not alone.
Asia’s story would not have been possible without people like you choosing to live in light of the peace, hope and rest the gospel brings. Remembering that we are loved and not alone changes our hearts and reorients our soul. Wherever your story finds you, remember your calling to be a person of peace – make your home, your workplace and your community more just and merciful places as you seek to remind the outcasts and the vulnerable that they, too, are loved not forgotten.
Edwin Copeland serves as the Vice President of Community Engagement for HOPE South Florida. Edwin can be reached at [email protected]