We are fast approaching both the three-year mark of the corona virus pandemic and the one-year mark of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the span of that same year, we’ve seen inflation hit its highest level in 40 years, political turmoil bordering on anarchy, and nearly 650 mass shootings (shootings involving more than 4 deaths).
Feeling down yet? Let’s go on.
We live in a time when disagreement over the value of an unborn life is perhaps the biggest issue dividing our country. And we live in a culture that tells its children that not only are their sexual identities and genders a matter of choice, now so too is their species. Meanwhile, mental illness continues to take its toll on us, with studies showing a continual rise in rates of depression in the United States.
Feeling glum now? Consider this.
Humanity is trashing the planet at an alarming rate, as evidenced, among other ways, by a floating island of plastic trash in the Pacific that spans 1.6 million square kilometers. Religious persecution remains as intractable as ever, with Christians bearing much of the brunt of it. Open Doors estimates that more 5,600 Christians were murdered for their faith last year. Meanwhile, at any given time more than 27 million people are victims of human trafficking for forced labor or sexual exploitation, according to the State Department.
Hopeless yet? I won’t go on, though I could. I am capable of mercy.
My point here is not to thrust you into a lake of despair. Really, it’s not. But the truth is, if we spend enough time looking around us (and it doesn’t take much time), we’re going to see so many reasons why we should be in those waters. The world is a broken place, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.
What the World Wants
Still, at times I think the world clamors for just one reason to think differently; one reason to believe things will be ok.
Could the world be looking for something radical? A game-changer? Something revolutionary? I am not talking about a war, uprising or rebellion. I am talking about something innovative, avant-garde, even ground-breaking in our current context. I am talking about…hope.
“Hope?” you ask. “What’s so groundbreaking about that?” Well, I am not talking about just any hope. I am talking about a particular kind of hope; a hope that need not be accompanied by the prospect of immediate, or even distant, change in circumstances in order to be real. I am talking about a hope that persists, even if everything that seems to rob us of hope remains or even grows. I am talking about a hope that seems senseless to the world, a hope that some in our victim-obsessed world might even find offensive. After all, they may ask, “how can you claim to have hope when so much is wrong in the world?”
That kind of hope – a hope inconceivable (and maybe even repugnant) to the world, a hope not dependent on cures, treaties, justice or even a restoration of morality, a hope outside of this world – is revolutionary hope. It grows even as persecution grows. It spreads even as disease spreads. It sings in the face of imprisonment, oppression and injustice. And yet, as inconceivable as it may seem, it remains a hope founded on an ontological, theological, scientific, and even philosophical basis. “How so?” you ask. Because it is the source of all of those things. It is the hope of peace, the hope of love, the hope of joy and the hope of eternity.
The True Hope
Have you surmised by now, what this hope I am speaking of is? Or rather Who He is? If not, I’ll remove the veil. He is Jesus Christ. And His hope is revolutionary because it truly is like none other – showing up in the most peculiar of places and bringing about the most astounding of results. I think the time has come to refocus on the hope of Jesus, the revolutionary hope of God.
In the next few posts, we’re going to explore this revolutionary hope, as it was manifest in the followers of God. From prison cells to fiery furnaces to battles against mighty, demonic armies, we are going to see how believers throughout biblical history have responded to times and circumstances more trying than ours with a revolutionary hope. And hopefully, as we take his journey, we’ll pick up a little of that hope ourselves. Because revolutionary hope turns everything around.
Lord Jesus, our Precious Savior and Redeemer, our world longs for the only true hope there is, the hope of You. And if we are honest, we believers too from time to time lose sight of this hope, as the trials of this world weigh down upon us. Have mercy on us, our Lord, and lead us to that still, quiet and altogether lovely place where Your peace reigns – the place that is our hope in You. And may You be forever praised. Amen.