It’s obvious to anyone alive today that we are living in some of the most unusual times of the last few generations. There is a great threat to health and wellbeing due to this pandemic and we still haven’t seen the final impact it may have on the economy. Many have lost jobs and their businesses without any guarantee of a quick recovery. Uncertainty about the educational system brings great stresses on families with children. Societal strife is the worst it has been in the last 40 years. Adding to that we are in the midst of an intense political season with polarization unlike anything we have seen in most of our lifetimes. In many ways you could say we are in the midst of a perfect storm as a nation and a people.
Whenever I have to confront something I have never seen or done, my personal tendency is to struggle with unusual anxiety about possible outcomes. Many of my friends are dealing with the most powerful feelings of fear they have ever faced. Healthy fear can be a great motivator to avoid serious danger, but unhealthy fear and the stress brings out the worst in anyone. When we are overcome with the burden of fear and stress, the smallest thing can set us off. Uncontrollable and strong emotional responses are the result of living in a prolonged season of fear. Fear of the future is what is causing so many to live with such unnatural intensity at this time. Reports of unprecedented spousal and child abuse are starting to surface as this intensity takes a toll on relationships.
In times like these, hope can be hard to find. Hope is one of the most powerful commodities in the human existence. Hope in a better future can make the journey much more possible and even enjoyable in the midst of great hardship. Someone said, “The one who has the most hope has the most influence!” We see this power in political slogans such as “Hope and Change”, “Yes We Can”. The political leader who inspires the most hope in a better future usually wins his campaign. These inspirational ideas work against the torrent of voices and experiences communicating to us that there is little hope and ability to see a better future.
Years ago, I learned the Spanish word for hope, “Esperanza”. This comes from the verb, “esperar” which not only means to hope but also to expect. In English to hope brings with it a feeling of uncertainty as it may or may not happen. But there is a better hope which is an expectation coming from a greater certainty than just wishful thinking. My spiritual mentor, Bill Johnson says, “Hope is the joyful expectation of good.”
True hope is based on knowing that God is truly good. He wants the best for every human being. He is a good Father who loves His children with a perfect love. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” This perfect love is God’s love. We can come to God, receive His perfect love and it casts away the fears we have in our lives. The greatest struggles with fear and hopelessness come when we forget about our powerful and loving Heavenly Father who has promised to provide for us and protect us and to never leave us or forsake us.
There are times we need to be reminded there is a greater reality than the one that is pressing in on us presently. Ephesians 1:18 speaks of this: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” It is easy to be blinded by current circumstances which cause us to have trouble seeing a better and hope-filled future. I have lived most of my life believing that as long as God is sitting on His throne as the God of the Universe, He has the last word and therefore, there is hope in a better day.
Finally, we can find hope in the words of Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If my present circumstances still aren’t good, then it still isn’t the end. I have the joyful expectation that because of God in my life and my willingness to yield to His will, everything will ultimately work together for a good outcome. Because of this hope I find in God and His plan for me, my family and this world, I am convinced that the best is yet to come. Our greatest days are not in the past but are still in front of us yet to come.
Hopefully and expectantly trust in God, no matter what your circumstances may be, and you will see that He is good and faithful. Don’t allow anything or anyone to rob you of your hope! He will bring you through this trying time and through Him you will experience the joy and peace of a better season in the future.