“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without words and never stops at all.”
A lovely breeze blows in through the window of our guest room, and I hear tree branches rustling against one another as if celebrating something wonderful. And it is wonderful to have such a breeze on a warm, August day. It's peaceful and it seems sad to exchange this time to write about all the concerns stirred up in our world by the self-serving. So I won't directly address the issues choking out peace and pitting us against each another. We do get our fill.
Though it is important to stay informed and most of all to pray, I find myself saddened by the loss of hope. I find it extremely challenging to find the balance between staying informed and maintaining hope. You see, while I don't recommend Christians keep their heads in the sand (though how I long to), I do believe we have a responsibility to remind others this may be a chapter in the book, but it isn't the whole story.
What I am concerned about is how the political climate of our culture has us so tied in fearful knots, we may find our eternal view blurred. I do not mean to criticize anyone, just challenging the possibility our focus may be pulled to the wrong thing since we are up to our necks in the sludge of propaganda. Be informed, know what is going on in the world but live in hope.
Ann Voskamp writes this about the importance of the hope habit, “Habits are small gears that leverage your life – and the habit of hope can resuscitate anything.” Can it? Can hope resuscitate this painfully twisted world, a world in which there is no safe place to hide? Can hope hold us up above all that seems to be going wrong, high above in the safe place of the Father's hand? Do we truly believe this world is temporary and our home is a place of eternal hope and peace?
Sarah Young's perpetual calendar, Jesus Calling, offers this, “Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven . . . Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road. . . . I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven.”
Our hope can never be held up by the right candidate, if there were one. In hope, I challenge myself daily to think on the truer story – His story. Our Father has not forgotten us. At this moment, we are all part of this difficult chapter in our world, but our focus must be on the war not the battle, on the Prize not the present. We must take the long-view not the short-view. Oh but we are to be battling in prayer – this is spiritual and not at all about first appearances or what it seems to be. The darkness in this world would so like for us to focus on the defeat we often feel in our flesh as we struggle upstream against the current of the world. But we are just passing through this mess as one might pass through a terrible storm crossing the mountains. Our focus must be on the pinhole of light we see guiding us as we inch our way through the black night of this world until the Light increases, until there isn't even a speck of darkness – until all is Light.
Do we truly believe in this Hope? Because if we do, I have to ask the hard question. Why does it seem we speak more about the enemy's works than we do of hope, a hope built strong from an eternal perspective. I care about the hurt, the damage and the losses suffered by those on the front-lines of the fray. But I want to be one holding up arms in prayer, focusing discouraged hearts on Jesus, the overcomer of the world, and encouraging others not to give up hope.
On August 9, 2016 John Stonestreet posted the these words on Breakpoint Daily:
“Our deepest problems aren't political ones, and the state is not able to address them. Looking to the state for hope is always misguided, but every four years we seem to fall for it. . . . Look, the Church is not reliant one bit on the state to do the life-giving, Gospel-proclaiming, brokenness-restoring work God has called it to do. The Church is the most effective institution of social change, period.”
While living as responsible citizens on this earth, remember our real citizenship is eternal. Embrace Hope. Hold onto the “hope [that] does not disappoint us” (Rom. 5:5 NIV). Hold onto the “living hope [given to us] through the resurrection [of Jesus, God's Son]” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV). We aren't home yet and we have a responsibility to encourage one another, to help keep one another focused on what is real, the hope we have in Christ. Encourage one another to focus on: “whatever is true, . . . noble, . . . right, . . . pure, . . . lovely, . . . admirable, . . . excellent or praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8).
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).