Hope || Ben Stewart
Our world is full of contradictions. We speak of freedom, yet there are more slaves today than when the Emancipation Proclamation was drafted. We try to make right choices, but still live through disheartening moments. Experiences like these that are full of opposition; that clash against what makes sense. These contradictions happen to us both as individuals and as a community.
As a nation we experienced this just several days ago. The contradiction of evil crashing into the lives of innocent, defenseless people.
As a nation we are left scrambling. Scrambling for something. Ways to cope. Raising gun bans, avoiding violent video games and movies, or the more spiritual response, praying for revival in our land. One article I read called parents to avoid the news with their children about the shooting. Hide them from this evil. “Just hug them tighter and shield their eyes,” they challenged me.
The point of this is not to belittle or promote any of these responses. Instead, what has become clear to me from all these responses is this: we are looking for hope.
I’m not talking about the type of hope that says ‘I hope things get better some day.’
I’m talking about a deeper hope that sustains us and moves us forward.
A hope that makes sense of the contradictions of life, regardless of whether they are seemingly small or tragically horrific.
And I would argue you won’t find that hope in policy changes, behavioral modifications, or even – dare I say it – a revival.
And on a more personal level, you also won’t find that type of hope in a relationship, an education, sexual fulfillment, or community.
None of those things can bear the weight of making sense of the collisions of life.
So what can?
In his commentary on Mark 13, theologian William Lane states: “As such, the [final return of Christ] provides the kernel of Christian hope, for the triumph of the Son of Man is the one event in the light of which the contradictions of the present are illumined and resolved.” (italics added)
This, my friends, is where I believe ultimate hope is found: the triumphant return of Christ!
Until that day, there will always be evil. There will always be both profound ways (shootings at schools, sex-slavery, etc.) and subtle ways (idolatry, greed, etc.) in which the world will stand in contradiction to God and His Will.
But our kernel of hope always remains: Christ will come…again. And He will triumph over these evils.
Justice will be served. Pain washed away. Evil cast out.
In Paul’s letters to the early church, he always wrote about the coming of Christ as a way to encourage a community of believers that faced much death, pain, persecution…and evil.
While some may see this as simply ‘sounding nice’ but having no relevance, I see it differently. Let me explain…
Growing up, my dad lived across from the school he attended. One weekend he was playing at the school playground when bullies came over, circled around, and started picking on him. For a young boy, it was a dark moment.
But what the bullies didn’t know is that my grandpa was standing on the front-porch watching. And when the time was right, he went into action, coming to my dad’s rescue.
But imagine that scene from my dad’s perspective: Surrounded by bullies, experiencing pain, but seeing real, tangible hope running his way! It didn’t make the pain stop, but it did give the courage to hang on, and tangible hope that this situation would end.
Here’s what I believe: Our Father sees the dark moments of our lives. And while the pain is real, He has left the front porch, running to our rescue.
May you keep your gaze on Him, for in that you will find the courage to hang on, and the hope that He will bring ultimate resolution!
So let me ask you…
- In moments of raw pain – be they communal or personal – where do you turn to find hope?
- Do you sincerely believe that Christ’s triumphant return will bring resolution to the evil of this world? Of your world?
- How do people see this hope displayed in your life?
|Ben Stewart is currently serving as the Director of Envision Culture (a young adult ministry with the C&MA). Prior to taking this position he served as a youth pastor (for 8 years) and a church planter in Madison, Wisconsin (for 2 years). Ben has also founded the anti-sex trafficking organization "5 Stones." He currently lives in Colorado Springs with his fantastic wife Kathy and two kids.|
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