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What Does Hope Look Like in a World on the Edge?
Posted by Temmy
Thu, May 09, 2024 11:36am




Nearly every headline in the news today is about something we wish was different but feel powerless to change. For example:

During a Holocaust memorial ceremony at the US Capitol yesterday, President Biden condemned a “ferocious surge of antisemitism in America and around the world” and pointed to “vicious propaganda on social media.” He’s tragically right, but what can be done about this?

Miss USA gave up her crown, citing a need to protect her mental health. One in five Americans lives with a mental illness, but 60 percent give a poor or failing grade to how such conditions are treated in our country. As loneliness and depression continue to escalate, what can be done?

Ukraine says it foiled an alleged Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky. As Russia intensifies its attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid, what can be done to halt its offensive?

The good news is that no matter how hopeless we may feel in these chaotic days, Christians can embrace and share a hope the world can neither recreate nor destroy.

Let’s take a two-step journey into such hope today.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE “FOR”?
Research correlates hope with positive emotions, a stronger sense of purpose and meaning, lower levels of depression, and less loneliness. High-hope people experience better physical health and a reduced risk of mortality, chronic illness, cancer, and sleep problems.

Who wouldn’t want more hope?

However, hope has no independent status or reality. It is not a thing like a desk or a chair. We either hope “for” something or we hope “in” something.

Both are vital to being people of hope.

French President Emmanuel Macron is warning that if Russia wins in Ukraine, European security will lie in ruins. I am, therefore, hoping for Ukraine’s success in the war.

A Foreign Affairs article reports that America’s adversaries are uniting to overturn the global order. For example, Russia’s offensive is employing weapons fitted with technology from China, missiles from North Korea, and drones from Iran. I am, therefore, hoping for a future that does not include World War III.
Another Foreign Policy article explains that America’s superpower status is difficult to project to areas where our adversaries are neighbors to our allies (Russia with Ukraine, China with Taiwan, North Korea with South Korea). I am therefore hoping for means of deterring them that, once again, do not include World War III.
For what do you hope most today?

WHAT DO YOU HOPE “IN”?
But hoping “for” is of no practical benefit unless whatever we hope “in” can do what we hope it can do. Here is one way the gospel lives up to its definition as “good news.”

The eminent psychologist and Pulitzer Prize winner Erik Erikson believed hope to be a foundational virtue for the best kind of life. He also linked it to the “major creedal values” of religion. Extensive research now supports this connection, demonstrating that religious beliefs, practices, and communities clearly and powerfully inspire hope.

Christians can take a step further: we have historical, evidential, and empirical reasons for placing our hope where we do. As St. Augustine reminded us, we are post-Easter people.

Unlike any other religious figure, our risen Lord defeated death and the grave. He promises to do the same for all who place their hope in him (John 11:25–26). And we know that he will come again for us individually (John 14:3) or collectively (Hebrews 9:28) to take us to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) where we will “rest from [our] labors” (Revelation 14:13) in a paradise beyond our imagining (1 Corinthians 2:9).

These are promises no other figure in human history has been able to make. And, as Dwight Moody noted:

“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”

MY COLLEGE ADVISOR DIED THIS WEEK
In the meantime, we can remember all God has done as we trust him for all he will do.

Today is V-E Day, celebrated by Great Britain and the United States as the end of World War II in Europe. But before there could be V-E Day, there had to be D-Day nearly a year earlier. The Allied invasion of Normandy, France, marked the beginning of the end for Hitler’s forces. Between D-Day and V-E Day, the war still raged but its outcome was determined.

You and I live between D-Day, when our Lord invaded our fallen planet, and V-Day when he will return. Spiritual conflict still rages (Ephesians 6:12), but its outcome is sure (cf. Matthew 25:31).

This fact became especially personal for me this week when I learned that my college faculty advisor had died.

Dr. Gene Wofford was a gracious educator and a wise mentor. I will always remember the time in a Christian doctrine class when he claimed he could summarize the Book of Revelation in two words. Seeing the surprised looks on our faces, he smiled and said, “We win.”

Now, in the very presence of his Savior, Dr. Wofford knows he was right. If Christ is your Lord, so will you one day.

Why do you need this hope today?





 

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