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Hope out of the ashes

OPINION | Tim Costello

Sunday 3 March 2013

We have just come off another Christmas where Australians spent literally billions of dollars on presents. Then came the Boxing Day sales when we spent even more. And with the increasing popularity and ease of online purchases, many of us even sat in front of the computer and shopped on Christmas Day.

A materialistic culture that lives only for today and doesn’t take time to reflect is a culture that has lost hope. The mantra of such a culture is the age-old “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

St Paul discussed this in his first letter to the Corinthians. In talking about the resurrection of the dead, Paul is echoing the words of Isaiah 22. In that passage, the prophet warns of a judgment to come. God’s intention in this passage, as always, is for his people to turn their lives around and find real life. Instead though they settle for something less and live out the lifestyle of a culture that has lost hope, living as if there is no tomorrow.

But our faith is one that shows us the reality and the hope of a new day, a new beginning. Already in this new year we have seen much that is wrong in the world. In our own backyard we have once again been ravaged with the devastation of bushfires. As paradoxical as it seems, the sadness that follows tragic events can actually let us rediscover hope. As believers, we know that there will be a day when such tragedy will be no more. This does not of course take away from the sadness and pain that people feel when devastating events overtake them, but it does help us cope when we could so easily despair.

As a Christian organisation, the work of World Vision is also about hope and new beginnings. Our Easter campaign this year focuses on an African country familiar to most of us: Rwanda. The reason for our familiarity with Rwanda is because of another tragedy that is still quite a recent memory for many of us – the genocide of 800,000 people in 1994.

Rwanda though is also a country of new beginnings, and there is much to be hopeful about as the people work hard to put the past behind them. Take the story of a young boy named Pacifique. His mother, Anastasi, used to struggle to grow enough food and Pacifique would often eat just one meal a day. Thanks to our child sponsors, Anastasi has learned how to grow more food, earn money and save. As a result, Pacifique can now look forward to a happy and healthy future.

This is just one example of God at work bringing renewal to a tired and weary world. The One who came to bring good news to the poor has done exactly that for young Pacifique and his family.

The deepest desire of the human heart is for renewal; to be connected with our Creator in relationship and to join with Christ in the renewal of all things. At the beginning of a new year, let’s surrender our lives to the God of new beginnings so that we can work with Christ to build new beginnings for others.

Tim Costello is CEO of World Vision Australia.

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