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The God of hope

Last Saturday I finally managed to get back out on the mountains after 7 long, frustrating months of kicking my heels. During that time at least I’ve been able to discover some great walks around East Renfrewshire. However, while out and about I would often get tantalising views of Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps hovering on the distant horizon. It was lovely to see them, but it was also a painful reminder of how our personal worlds have shrunk over this past lockdown.

I was a bit worried about heading out on the road up past Loch Lomond only the day after national travel restrictions were lifted. I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be just slightly busy, and so it proved. Thankfully I had set off early enough to beat much of the traffic, but the carpark north of Loch Fyne was still overflowing even at 7.45am.

Anyway, it was fantastic to be back out on the hills again and to be blessed with such amazing weather. For me, its one of my favourite experiences and an activity that restores and refreshes me. It was especially great to be out with my wee dog Cory, who probably covered twice the distance that I did on the day!

I’ve been thinking recently about how we have all had so little to look forward to over the past year. In “normal” times, we might have the hope of a distant holiday to drag us through the long winter months, or even a cinema trip or meal out giving us something to look forward to in our diaries. I guess this past lockdown has been so grim partly because we couldn’t see any immediate prospect of hope that things would get better.

It’s fantastic that we now have some measure of hope in our lives again, with the vaccination programme going so well and the restrictions slowly being lifted. At the same time, I guess many of us are still struggling to cope with the impact of what we have been through and continue to go through. This past year has really knocked the stuffing out of many people and had a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing. Its not necessarily easy to suddenly get back to “normal” after such an overwhelming experience.

As Christians, we believe in a God of hope, who longs to fill us with hope and expectation for the future. As we start to leave behind the dark shadows of winter and move towards a hopefully brighter future, I pray this blessing upon each of you reading this today: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

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