Hi to everyone. So sorry I’ve been out of communication for the last few weeks. Joe and I have been struggling through a big move which has required packing, storing, buying, renting, more storing, unpacking, and hunting for anything that resembles a toothbrush. I was ready to use a bottle brush, but couldn’t get it in my mouth.
Okay, so now that we’re more settled, and the current social situation requires distancing, I’ve had a lot of time to think about hope. The scripture which continues to live in my brain is from Job 13:15a, where he stated, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” If you’ll remember, Job was suffering through a time of tremendous loss. He had every reason to throw His hands up and declare that God had left him. He had actual physical and spiritual pain, yet he refused to let his confusion and isolation cloud the truth of his real security. He knew who held him, even though his circumstances, and most likely his feelings, told him the opposite. Right now, I FEEL at times that maybe this virus thing has the ultimate power, but I KNOW differently. At certain moments, it feels like God is slaying me by taking away my freedoms, yet my heart knows better. I certainly never thought I’d find great joy just to get in the car and aimlessly ride around for awhile. And at the moment, I’m actually taking great pleasure in watching the Property Brothers jackhammer a concrete floor. You just never know when I might need to rent some equipment in order to remodel a moldy basement, or something. (I THINK I’m just kidding…those days are in my past….maybe….but who knows?)
All of us are currently living through a confusing and isolating time these days. It’s a strange period in our lives in which we scratch our heads in clouded frustration, alone with our thoughts, as we seek to somehow stay engaged with others and encouraged towards the future. So, lately I’ve been pondering the meaning of my hope. I know my hope should be more weighty than just a wish-like statement such as, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” or “I hope she gets that job,” or “I hope we get through this.” Those are situational outcomes based entirely on external circumstances which will demonstrate what the future may hold. Will things improve? Will the virus go away? Will we ever see our physical freedoms restored? Will I ever get to actually hug my extended family again?
This forces me to think, “What is the non-situational hope of a believer really about?” Well, to start off, above all, our hope is not based on a what, but a WHO, in the person of Jesus Christ. The good news is that our true Hope doesn’t wait for external circumstances to change. The outcome of our hope has already been determined by the past. When Christ died, was buried, and rose again, He secured in the past what we can be sure of for the future. That’s what we hang our hats on. That’s what I have to be reminded of daily. A believer’s hope isn’t a wishful prayer, or dependent on social distancing. It’s a surety which has already been established and will be fully realized one day.
Nevertheless, the reality of my hope is being challenged these days, due to the falling economy and our shrinking retirement accounts. Fear has become uncomfortably personal, due to the fact my husband is a fundraiser for a national, non-profit company. These funds are raised by him in order to enable law enforcement to educate children and seniors in how to be safe. He’s been doing this for over 40 years. Law enforcement depends on these charitable contributions from small businesses in order to continue providing a good and protective service to their communities. Presently, and probably for an extended time to come, small businesses will struggle just to remain solvent. They won’t be in a benevolent position any time soon, or perhaps won’t even exist. Consequently, the future of Joe’s income hangs on whether these businesses will be able to donate to the community programs. This is a serious concern for Joe and me as we look to the future. What will my (our) life look like as the economy moves forward? What will be my hope? Of course, I desire for things to turn around economically, but what if they don’t? Will Jesus be my surety to carry me through the day-to-day? It’s critical for me to know who or what I place my hope in….money, comfort, convenience….or the love of Christ? I oftentimes don’t like what I see in myself, but I want to be sure about the strength of my faith. How about you? I want this difficult time to be one of assurance for me and for you. There’s no better time than the present to see what our faith looks like, right?
So, where do we start? Simply stated and oddly enough, we begin in the same place at which we’ll end…at the cross. This is where Jesus demonstrated His sacrificial love for us which will never let us go. Nothing will ever mitigate that fact. As Paul states in Romans 8:35-39, “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ..”, not even trouble, or hardship, or famine (among other dangers). Knowing this and placing our hope in this surety is what will keep us at peace when we’re fearful, confident when we’re unsure, and calm when we’re shaken. For those of you out of work, for those of us whose income may be severely depleted, for those of you who see less food on the table, for the depressed who are living dark days, for the fearful….Jesus will never leave us. We’ll never be alone with our tears, we’ll never struggle to carry a burden which He hasn’t already lightened for us, and we’ll always be enabled to resist the temptation to sin if we get caught in doubting God’s provision.
Someone once said, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Hopefully, during this time of hunkering down to fight this virus in the individual foxholes of our living room, it may well be one of renewal for many. It may even cause some to run towards God in panic. Prayers will surely abound. That’s all good. However, sometimes foxhole-faith is just that. It’s one that takes hold only until things calm down, and then doesn’t last as life gets more comfortable. Lord willing, the world will open up to us again one day soon. False hope will once again be cultivated through working again, going on vacation, getting back to the gym, hugging family, seeing your bank account improve, even going to church. Let’s not become foolishly hopeful in those things. Yes, they are enjoyable pieces of our lives for our God-given provision and pleasure. However, as we approach Resurrection Day, let’s remember that the love of Jesus through His death for us, and the miracle of the empty tomb is the only sure Hope to which we cling. He is with us. He is present with you. The victory is His, and assurance is yours. He is risen!
Happy Easter, ya’ll!