Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor (BKCAME photo)

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:10

We all have waited for something to arrive or happen. As children, you couldn’t wait to be an adult. You wanted to be grown, so you could come and go when you wanted. Now, you’re all grown up and wish you had someone to take care of you.

As a working young adult, you couldn’t wait until payday. You had money on your mind and your mind on your money. You needed your money.

You couldn’t wait for the day of your vacation. You planned the trip months ago and it seemed like forever before it arrived.

No matter how much you anticipated the day of arrival, it didn’t make a difference. You just had to wait! Ideally, the longer you wait, the more hopeful you are. But, oftentimes, the longer you wait, the more discouraged you become.

The message today is no matter how long you much wait on God, keep hope alive, because the Lord will return. Jesus told us, No one knows the day nor the hour with he will return. So, just be ready!

In the apostle Peter’s second letter to the scattered church throughout Asia Minor, much like his first letter, he encouraged his readers.

Peter, the chief pastor of the early church, was not writing to a particular congregation or community of believers. This circular letter was written to all who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, which means, it was written to you and me.

A group of false teachers and evildoers had infiltrated the church. They circulated some stranger doctrine within the body of believers. They refuted the claim of Jesus’ return. Since He hadn’t returned, He was not going to return. Because they did not expect the final judgment, they lived immoral lives.

Peter responded to these false teachers by stressing his eyewitness experience. Peter personally saw the glory of the Lord on the sacred mountain (Mark 9:2-13).

Peter answered these evildoers by describing the effect on the community and the judgment that awaits them. According to Peter, the Messiah’s return was delayed because God wanted everyone to repent.

As believers, we should live good lives filled with hope since we are looking forward to Jesus’ return.

Peter’s letter is a message of hope. Jesus is coming back. Just because He has not returned does not mean He will not return. Delay does not mean denial.

The apostle Paul put it this way, “For me to live is Christ.” His delay gives us more time to win souls for Christ.

Christ’s delayed coming gives the sinner man and woman and boy and girl more time to convert, confess, repent, be renewed, and become a regenerated person.

Therefore, we wait, we hope, and we have faith in God!

Let’s look at three things: the meaning of hope, the miracle of hope and the message of hope.

The Meaning of Hope

What is hope? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.”

Hope is wanting something to happen or be true. Hope is firm confidence. Hope is eager expectation. Hope eagerly waits. Hope is not unfounded wishful thinking.

A person with hope knows how to persevere. A child of God is known for his or her perseverance. They don’t give up. God’s people are brave and they don’t lose hope.

Rejoice in hope! Be patient in times of troubles and never stop praying.

The Miracle of Hope

Once you and I were strangers to the world of God. We had no hope, because we were without God. God called us to an eternal hope — the assurance of eternal life guaranteed by God’s Holy Spirit.

Once our people, Africans in the Diaspora were strangers in a strange land. We were taken from our native land, across thousands of miles of water, and brought to a place where people devalued our worth. We were treated inhumane — just a little above animals. But, we called upon the Spirit of the living God and placed our hope in the same God who freed the Hebrews slaves from Egyptian bondage.

Hope is the beginning of faith. The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8 that by grace through faith (not hope), we are saved.

Hope accompanies faith. Without hope, faith does not exist. Faith is the confident assurance that things hoped for will happen. Hope believes that things are going to get better.

For nearly two years, we have lived with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. It’s not so new anymore. Over 800,000 people have died from it or its effects. I’m tired of COVID-19. I’m taking a no nonsense attitude that things are going to get better. I’m also being wise by taking all precautions — inoculating against the virus, wearing a face covering in public, watching my social distance, and frequently washing my hands. My hope is that you will do the same thing. If we all do these things, a miracle will happen. The virus will stop mutating. People will stop getting sick and dying from the virus.

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. The miracle of hope is salvation. If God can save sinners, if God can free enslaved people, certainly the people of God can hope and wait for his return.

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7).

The Message of Hope

Viktor Frankl postulated that our motivation for life comes from meaning. When you do not have meaning or purpose for your life your mental health begins to deteriorate.

Many people’s identities are tried to their jobs and positions in society. For most men, their jobs define them. For most women, her position is society defines her. But a loss of employment or a divorce can devastate him or her.

During the 2019 Coronavirus Pandemic, a huge mental health crisis developed. People sequestered in their homes separated them from their meaning or purpose in life.

Who they thought they were was redefined. Parents became teachers. I believe the daily pain of loneliness that people lived with was revealed.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 5 American adults, or 51 millions people had mental illness and 23 million received mental health care services. That left 27 million people untreated. Then came the pivot in the pandemic. There were 78 times as many tele-health appointments by April 2020 compared to before the pandemic. For many patients, the thought of getting up and going to a therapist office brought on feelings of anxiety and depression.

Viktor Frankl believed that hope can be found in even the darkest of places.

Hope allows you to redefine who you are and remember whose you are. You are not the job. The job is a means of supporting yourself and your family. Remember, it was God who provided the job, and it is God who takes care of you.

Hope motivates you to get up when life knocks you down. Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them (Proverbs 24:16).

Hope sustains you when you suffer. Hope says, “We have a future glory.” Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

Hope is always a message of encouragement. Hope says, “Things are going to get better.”

Hope says, “The best is yet to come.” Hope says, “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is the Lord’s faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:21-23

The message of hope in Galatians 5:5, For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

We eagerly wait for the coming of the Lord when God’s final verdict of “not guilty” will be bestowed to all believers. By faith, we declare it. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we receive it!

On April 3, 1968, in Memphis, TN, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.  Dr. King came to Memphis two time before to give aid to the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike. When he arrived on this occasion, he wasn’t feeling well. His throat was sore and he had a slight fever.

So, he talked Rev. Ralph Abernathy into taking his place speaking at the Mason Temple COGIC Headquarters. When Albernathy saw how disappointed the crowd was because of King’s absence, he called Dr. King at the motel and persuaded him to come and speak to the crowd. When King arrived, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

He began to speak extemporaneously to them. He talked about the 1,300 sanitation workers on strike — God’s children suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing was gonna come out. He talked about unity. Individually, they were poor people…collectively, we were richer that all the nations in the world with the exception of nine. He called for a boycott of companies with unfair hiring policies. He admonished the crowd to remain in the struggle with the sanitation workers until the end.

Dr. King described his near-assassination in Harlem in 1958, when a demented black woman stabbed him at his book signing. If he had merely sneezed, his aorta would have been punctured and he would have drowned in his own blood.

In his final closing, he explains his visit to the mountaintop, his vision of the Promised Land, the Revelation of his own possible death, and the proclamation of the Second Coming of Christ.

King’s final sentence was is a quotation from Julia Ward Howe’s anthem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,”

Jesus is coming back again. Just like he said he would. “Behold, I come quickly! I am coming soon! My reward is with me! Blessed are those whose robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb!”

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

And, we shall behold him and not another!

The question is when will Jesus return? The answer is soon. Be ready! Keep hope alive!

In the name of Jesus, Amen!

The Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor is the senior pastor of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church in Los Angeles.