Choosing Hope With My Eyes Open

January 25, 2019

Above my desk at work, right above my computer hangs a large cork board. I have pictures and quotes tacked to it, a calendar and a few bits of encouragement from co-workers. Right in the middle of it is five words I tore out of a National Geographic magazine. I look at those five words more than anything else I have on my board.

 

"Despite Perils, Decide to Hope."

 

New York has just passed a bill allowing for abortion up until the ninth month. In any other definition that's legalized murder. Every year, tens of millions of women and children are trafficked as sex slaves. Many of them never leave American soil. Nearly 20 people per minute are being physically abused by an intimate partner. 5 million children are exposed to domestic violence in the United States every year - that's 13,698 children every day.

 

As the receptionist at a church, I take the phone calls before they reach the pastor. A grandfather called asking if we would mind hosting a celebration of life ceremony for his granddaughter who recently died - she wasn't yet two years old. The grief that carried through the phone weighed like an anvil on my chest. An elderly woman called asking about our church, hesitant, near tears because she so missed fellowship but had been harmed by churches in the past and was afraid to hope in God's people again. I grieved with her, celebrated her faith to reach out and encouraged her.

 

"Despite Perils, Decide to Hope."

 

Hope in what? As a follower of Christ, I admit I have asked that question even when I know the answer. I have screamed that question at God - "Hope in WHAT? In peril, in pain, in suffering, where is the hope? Where is the power? Where is the relief?"

 

His answer, despite my inner turmoil, is a whisper: "In me."

 

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8), "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12-13).

 

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you... And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you" (1 Peter 5:6-7, 10).

 

The test is of our faith. Will we still believe in the pure love of our God when the world we see is swimming in sewage? Will we still have faith in his incredible power when we see the powerless persecuted? Will we look beyond the devastation and fear and hold tight to the restoration He promises? Even if we don't see it until the day we meet him in heaven? Will we still put our hope in what he can do today?

 

"Despite Perils, Decide to Hope."

 

It's a decision. The decision can't be made without first acknowledging the reality set before us. Our hope cannot be in that which fails, but in he who has never failed - even when it looks as if he has.

 

Jesus' death on the cross, what appeared to be the greatest tragedy, was actually the greatest victory.

 

Casting our anxiety, our trembling, our paralyzing fear, our broken hearts, on him because he does care for us. What we feel is irrelevant to the truth. My prayer for us is that despite the perils we find ourselves surrounded by, we decide to set our hope in the One untouched by our peril's, and therefore able to extend to us all the same protection. Our bodies and hearts may suffer, but we can rest in the truth that our God not only cares for us, but that in due time he will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.

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