Hope in Tumult
These last few days and weeks have been, in a word, "tumultuous". Tumult in our nation regarding the election, corruption in government and voting; tumult in families and loved ones who are enduring untold trials; tumult in my mind and heart as I wrestle with confusion, anger, sorrow, and so much more.
As I have been reading about the election and so on, I have found a subtle, under-lying theme from people on both sides of the political "fence", as well as in the lives of those sharing things unrelated to politics. The word is "hope".
Regarding a particular candidate: "hope is back".
Regarding voter fraud: "I hope whoever is involved gets caught and punished!"
Regarding the weekly grind: "I hope this week goes by quickly."
Regarding continued uncertainties with Covid: "I hope we don't get sick."/ I hope so-and-so gets better soon."/"I really hope a vaccine is available soon!"
Regarding school: "I hope next year isn't so uncertain for the kids."
This list could, of course, go on and on and on. What is hope? And how is hope available to provide the comfort we so desperately need in times of tumult?
Hope, of course, lies in belief. Belief about a circumstance, person, or idea. Politically, one can hope that their candidate of choice will do the right things. Relationally, one will hope that a particular person will meet their needs. Physically, one can hope that they stay healthy. Emotionally, one will hope that they can stay strong, happy, and so on. And, these "hopes" are rooted in some sort of belief that these things will happen. But, what happens, then, when your political candidate is not elected or fails to do what he or she said they were going to do. Or what happens when your relationships have conflict? Or what happens when you get that diagnosis or someone you love dies? Or what about the daily struggles so many of us have with depression, anxiety, and so much more. Where is hope then?
The answer lies in what you have chosen to believe and whether or not that belief is rooted in truth or lies. And, the line between what is true and what is a lie often appears imperceptible, unless I am alert and aware of the subtlety of deceit. Being aware, then, remains crucial to this choice because what I ultimately choose will determine my destiny.
We have truth:
God and his ways are good and perfect.
God is in control of all things, times, places, and people.
God's promises are always fulfilled.
God's plans give hope.
These truths are rooted in the infinite one, God himself. The belief, then, that these are true and can be trusted stem from a heart that believes God is the Author and Creator of all things and will therefore accomplish his purpose regarding his creation.
We also have lies:
Nothing good will happen or is happening.
God doesn't really care about what is going on in our world or in my life.
God has failed because what is happening is not meeting my expectations.
God's plans are not good so I must create my own hope and destiny to be happy.
These lies are rooted in a finite, limited understanding: my understanding. The belief, then, that God doesn't care and that I must take over my life stems from a heart that believes my ways or the ways of another person or belief system is better that what God says.
So, looking at these statements, I can then, look at the election, corruption in government and power; I can look at death, sickness, strife, and so many other things, always believing "something". The clincher here lies in what that "something" is in which I will choose to believe.
Will I believe God controls the election and those who believe themselves to be in power? Or will I believe the media, politicians, and my indignation that my personal rights "must not be infringed"?
Will I believe God's plans are good when a devastating and seemingly untimely death or sickness occurs? Or, will I believe he no longer cares or messed up, thereby convincing myself that I must understand all the "whys" in order to satisfied in my anger or grief?
Will I believe God cares about me in my daily struggles with sin, anxiety, depression, or whatever else comes into my life? Or will I choose to care about myself by indulging in pleasures which please me or satisfy the desires which are "mine" to placate?
Where is my hope? In myself and what I can do, create, or be? Or in the God who does not change, controls all things, and governs all things by the word of his power?
I was reading through some Psalms this week, which have been great comfort to me.
"But the LORD sites enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the people with uprightness. The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. ...The nations have sunk in the pit that they have made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgement; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men!" (Psalm 9)
"O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved."
Now, in these, we recognize that we are woefully unable to stand blameless before God. So, how can we find hope and comfort before the one who holds our days in his hands?
Hebrews 10: 12-23 "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."
This is our hope. God who loves us. Christ who gave his life for us. Christ who now lives and intercedes to God on our behalf. The Spirit who instructs and teaches and comforts us. In these things we hope. And, we have further comfort that what we endure in this life is but a shadow of the things to come. For what God says in the Psalms about his dominion over evil men remains true. And, what he proclaims about those who are able to enter his holiness also remains true. And, what we, who have claimed the blood of Christ cling to is that hope and belief that we have done nothing but Christ has done everything. We are not in control, but God is. We have no lasting city here on earth, but we seek the kingdom that is to come.
This seems crazy to those who do not know him and his power and his hope, but for those of us who believe in him, THIS HOPE is power.
Power over sin. Power over fear. Power over evil. Power in crisis. Power in grief. Power in depression.
Hope in life. Hope in death. Hope in whatever Satan and his evil plans devise.
We have "a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore, [dear ones], do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance , so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised" (Hebrews 10:34-36). And, what is that promise?
Heaven. The Kingdom of God which will endure forever.
So, dear ones. Whatever happens in these days, do not give in to the lies of this world, your flesh, and the devil, but rest in the truth of your everlasting God, your loving Savior, and the comfort of the Spirit.
May your lasting hope be grounded in truth, in God, and not in the lies of these wavering tumultuous days.
Additional song for meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OibIi1rz7mw