There is plenty in our world to make us despair. Wars and rumors of wars. Political tensions, racial tensions, and class tensions. Injustice, cruelty and violence. People being bullied, taken advantage of, and slandered. The daily newsfeed puts human pain on display.
I have been told that for the residents of Houston experiencing Hurricane Harvey, the rain seemed like it would never stop. For all of us, we hear tragic news falling like a persistent downpour. There seems to be no end in sight.
But Christians, even in a world in turmoil, are called to live in hope. This might sound like a naive suggestion or an empty cliche. SpongeBob Squarepants might live in hope. The rest of us don’t have the luxury of being so simple-minded.
But as followers of Jesus, our hope is neither naive nor idealistic. It is an eyes-wide-open hope that sees the world in all its brokenness and still holds on.
This is because the God who is sovereign over all things is the God of hope. And in hope, he sent his Son to live among us. In the incarnation of Jesus, Hope moved into the neighborhood. Christ offered hope to a divided, hate-filled, tired, cynical, despairing world. He offered hope to people who had lost hope.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Weary souls still need to hear the news of a new and glorious morn.
But in a surprising twist of irony, Jesus, the incarnation of hope, refused to stay among us—“It is for your good that I am going away.” Instead, he sent his Spirit to empower the church to bear witness to the God of hope in word and deed.
The church dispenses hope when it demonstrates the peace, love, and justice of God and points to the Savior who lived and died so we might be united with him.
Throughout this next month we will be celebrating ways churches have been agents of hope, as they bear witness to the God of hope. We’ll celebrate stories of churches caring for the vulnerable, pursuing reconciliation, affirming the dignity of the weak, and providing opportunity to those in need.
Our world needs the thrill of hope. The good news is that Christ is still on the move through his church, bringing hope to a dark world.