Blessed hope

Have you sat down to watch the news recently? I find it a somewhat overwhelming experience. There always seems to be news of some disaster from floods to forest fires, from glaciers melting to volcanoes erupting, often with hundreds of lives lost and thousands displaced. These people are also dealing with a pandemic. Can you imagine losing your loved ones and your home in the middle of a pandemic? As if the natural disasters aren’t enough, there are also rumours of wars, wars, espionage, invasions and strife, typically between countries with enough nuclear weapons to level the planet. Politics seems more polarised than ever. People can’t seem to agree to disagree amicably anymore. It seems impossible to build a consensus on anything. Energy and food prices are soaring, and economists are worried about inflation as a covid-hit world economy struggles to recover. 

These are just some of the macro issues that affect all of us. However, some of us are too preoccupied with our predicaments and have little capacity to worry about global issues which don’t directly impact us. It’s difficult to care about an earthquake displacing an entire community across the globe when you’re battling the daily grind of life, struggling to pay your bills or feed your children. A former colleague vowed never to have kids because she didn’t want to bring children into such a desperate world. I suspect she isn’t alone. At a macro level, the future offers very few rays of hope, and for many, the story isn’t different in their situations. If some of the strangers who smiled at you shared their stories, you might find yourself grateful for your lot in life. So, I can understand why people drink and indulge in other vices to numb the pain. I can understand how suicide can be a serious option for many.

I often wonder how I’d cope with life amid all these issues without God. Philosophers used to argue that things will get better as our civilisation becomes more sophisticated, but I doubt many can make that argument now. For instance, our technological advancements haven’t necessarily led to progress, especially where the quality of life and relationships are concerned. Cases of mental health and loneliness are on the rise, and diseases like high blood pressure and anxiety, once reserved for adulthood, are now rife in kids. So, where does one find hope in this world? Life has numerous uncertainties, and we have little control over much that could directly impact our lives. Despair seems a logical conclusion, and with good reason.

The Bible isn’t silent on these things. Jesus affirmed that there’s no escaping tribulation in this life [John 16:33]. Paul, writing to Christians, added that if their hope is limited to this life, they’d be most pitiable [1 Corinthians 15:19]. The Bible isn’t disparaging hope in this life because there are many stories of God intervening in hopeless situations, but it’s pointing out that there’s a far better hope, a blessed hope. Writing to one of his disciples, Titus, Paul looks forward to the second coming of Jesus, our blessed hope [Titus 2:11-14]. Then, in the book of Revelation, John describes what will happen when He comes for His own [Revelation 21:1-5]. Those who have pledged their complete allegiance to Jesus in this life can look forward to a new Jerusalem where God Himself will make His dwelling among men. 

Despite the daily uncertainties and adversities we face, there’s a promise from the only Saviour of the world that things won’t always be like this. He will remake this world, and that recreated world death, mourning, crying and pain will literally cease to exist [Revelation 21:5]. Can you imagine such a world? Jesus commanded John to write down this promise to give us hope. One day, we will awake from this nightmare existence to something indescribably better.  Nevertheless, that blessed hope doesn’t exempt God’s children from the tribulations that come with this existence. We’ll encounter pain, suffering and death, but we have a different mandate – to be salt and light in a world desperate for both [Matthew 5:13-16].

Amid so much affliction, Jesus calls His people to comfort others, just as He has comforted us [2 Corinthians 1:3-4]. It takes faith to accept and believe God’s words of comfort [like Isaiah 49:15-16, Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, etc.], and truly cast your burdens unto Him [1 Peter 5:7]. Doing this creates the capacity within us to help others with their burdens. There are times I wonder if I can make a difference, where my efforts can seem so inconsequential given the enormity of some of life’s challenges. But, God hasn’t asked me to solve the world’s macro problems, but He has asked me to love my neighbour. Often, He empowers me to answer the prayer requests of others – something He has done repeatedly throughout Scripture. However, anyone who wants to be God’s conduit of love and grace to others must be willing to lay aside their troubles to help others. Are you prepared to respond to this calling despite what you may be going through? Can you entrust your problems to God while you serve and maybe, save others?

History has proven time and again that human beings are incapable of solving the macro problems of this world. Our only hope in that regard is God, and He alone can fix our mess. But till then, He has left us as His conduits of grace to minister comfort, relief and hope to those within our circles of influence as they deal with their daily trials. Maybe as we see and hear tragedies and injustices unfold, we ought to pray: “Lord, how can I help serve your purposes in this situation?” 

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