If there is one thing running rampant in this culture it is negativity. People are more anxious and fearful than ever. There is great concern about the absence of young adults in our churches. Studies are reporting that young people are not able to articulate their faith or explain the simplest theological doctrines. Some economists are saying we are on the verge of another financial collapse. Christians are arguing about issues such as immigration and gender identity. Suicide in the elderly seems to be on the rise. Natural disasters are occurring around the world, driving more people into poverty and despair. The political scene in the United States has ramped up negativity higher than I have seen it in my life time.
In the midst of all of this, I have one statement to make: I choose hope! Not a bury-your-head-in-the-sand and hope-for-the-best type of hope, but a hope that is based on the assurance of who God is. He is sovereign. He is faithful. He has a plan and His plan will be carried out. He is more powerful than any government or economy. His promises are sure and His presence is constant. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and one day that trumpet is going to sound and Jesus will return on the clouds of glory. In this lies my hope.
I choose hope because I see evidence of God’s almighty, righteous, and gracious power at work all around me: in individuals, in the church, in the country, and in the world. When I pray with a young person or adult to receive Christ as their Lord, I am overwhelmed with hope. When teens ask me to pray over them because they are sensing God calling them into full time ministry, I have hope that God is raising up a mighty army to fight in the spiritual realm. When I go to a lecture by Nicholas Wolterstorff on justice and over one third of the crowd is college age people, I have hope that this generation is going to be used by God to let justice flow down like a might water and righteousness like a never-ending stream. When I experience our Classis coming together through a prayer initiative to pray for the lost, I have hope. When I attend synod and hear how our denomination is partnering with denominations around the world to bring the good news of the gospel, I have hope. When I hear reports of how God is working through our denominational ministries, I have hope. When I volunteer at Raybrook retirement home and see husbands and wives coming to visit their spouse everyday even though the spouse has no idea who they are, I have hope. And when I sat by my husband’s bed as he breathed his last breath in the presence of Jesus and was ushered into eternity by Christ Himself, I HAVE HOPE!
Everything I mentioned in the opening paragraph is true and there is real cause for concern. We must pray fervently, think creatively, and work diligently to deal with these situations. We must pray for our church, government, and other world leaders. We must face reality, but we must not give up hope. Having hope does not mean we will escape hardship and perhaps even persecution. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble…” That is a fact. If we live faithfully before Him we will be counter cultural and that invites conflict. But Jesus also said we should, “…take heart because I have overcome the world.” So in the face of hardship, trials, negativity, and anxiety, I still choose to have hope!
What evidence of hope do you see around you?
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5