There’s Hope for This Hopeless World

Brendan Gleeson as August Nicholson, "The Village", 2004.

Brendan Gleeson as August Nicholson, “The Village”, 2004.

“You may run from sorrow as we have. Sorrow will find you.” – August Nicholson, The Village

It is not hard to feel that the world in which we live is entirely hopeless. Who could blame someone for coming to such a conclusion? Life does not just include sorrow; it seems to be filled with it. Sorrow is inescapable. It is like a lion pursuing it’s prey, closing the gap and going for the kill. Everyone on planet earth knows that life as we know it is broken. Or perhaps it’s more like a Frankenstein monster—it looks something like what we might expect but with horrific deformities and a patchwork solution attempting to cover up the obvious, fatal flaws.

I find it almost unbearable at times. Look around the world and what do you see? You see millions of women and children being exploited for money in the sex trade. You see millions of people starving to death and dying from preventable diseases. You see families being torn apart by absentee fathers, or marriages that break apart too quickly and leave devastating effects. You see boys as young as 12 getting hooked on violent internet pornography. You see movies and music and video games supporting a rape culture and the degradation of women and minorities. You see political power plays, injustice at every turn, racism, sexism, and just downright hatred for our fellow man. You see natural disasters that tear apart whole communities and tsunamis that kill in the hundreds of thousands. You see unborn babies murdered in the womb, and many who were wanted but still never made it to full term. You see roughly 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys who are sexually molested. You see corrupt religion exploiting vulnerable people for money. You see the innocent being trampled on and the guilty getting off the hook. You see suicide bombers and mass shootings so often it doesn’t even shock anymore. The list could go on, but in short what we see is that our world is beyond messed up and it doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better.

While we all know something is terribly awry, we also intrinsically have hope for a better tomorrow. We fight off despair by finding something to give us a glimpse of the things that could be. We trust in politicians, or in religious leaders, or in celebrities, or in health care, or prescription medications, or in causes we can get behind. On a personal level, we hope in our spouse, our boyfriend or girlfriend, our children, a promising job, a clever investment, an attractive appearance, or whatever else we delude ourselves into thinking might deliver us and bring meaning to our otherwise depressing condition.

Let me just say three simple things.

First, we are right to gravitate towards despair. The world really is a cruel place. Of course, we can always find the silver lining, but for the most part we are being sucked down by the pull of a quicksand we simply can’t escape.

Second, we are right to fight for hope. Human beings were made for hope. Indeed, we were made to hope! We are not meant to just give in and accept the reality around us. We’re not supposed to just make peace with the plight. We are right to look beyond.

Third, we are insane to look for hope anywhere on this planet. Mankind has existed for millennia, and supposedly we are on an evolutionary trajectory that is trending upward. We are supposed to be learning from our mistakes and moving forward, aren’t we? Yet here we are—dare I say it—no better off than we have been at any point in the past. The saying hope in humanity restored has got to be the most temporary, superficial relief imaginable, comparable to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand in the presence of immanent danger.

I’ve got news for you. Human beings have had their chance, and we’ve gotten nowhere. Life is still a conveyor belt of corpses and that’s never going to change because of anything we do. What we need is not faith in humanity. What we need is intervention. What we need is help from the outside. What we need is something…no, someone…who is more powerful than we, more noble than we, more trustworthy than we, more gracious than we, more loving than we, to swoop in from out of nowhere and save the day. What we need is a hero. What we need is not to trust ourselves but to wholly distrust ourselves and find one who can take this impossible burden and make it right. Does such a miracle-worker exist?

The greatest hope in the entire universe is that such a hero does exist! You know where I’m going with this; but then again, maybe not. I’m not talking about some vague notion of God, some blind hope that a being out there exists who just might, if he felt so inclined, show us a hint of sympathy. I’m not talking about man-made religion or general, indefinable notions of the Supreme. Screw man-made religion! Screw baseless, positive thinking or belief in a nameless force! What I’m talking about here is far more definable than that, far more reliable and far more real.

You can call me crazy if you want, but Jesus of Nazareth, the God-man, is the only hope for our world. He and he alone is the one who can deliver us from the plight we are in. The real Jesus of history past, God’s only Son who came to take upon himself the sins of the world, and the one who promises to come again in power to conquer the kingdoms of the world and set up his own, this Jesus is the one in which we need to place our hope.

Naysayers and skeptics retort. Jesus? He’s a product of revisionist history. His miraculous fables come from a culture that had no scientific stabilizing forces. He’s just an exaggerated, magic-working carpenter at best or a complete myth at worst. You expect me to believe in your God who couldn’t even stop himself from being nailed to a piece of wood? The universe’s hero, hanging on a bloody cross? Utter foolishness.

No, my friend. What is utter foolishness is thinking that human beings can turn around the mess we find ourselves in. What is utter foolishness is passing over the only Person who has ever stared death in the face and came out the victor. What is utter foolishness is living your life hoping by some chance that it will all go well for you, that you can dodge the bullets of misery that life fires your way, that somehow the people and things of this world can give you enough to overcome the snowball of despair that is growing all around you. You can’t escape it. We can’t escape it. At least, that is, not on our own.

I believe with all my heart that the world is beyond healing—beyond human healing that is. We’re in over our heads. Can you possibly not agree? Here we are in 2016. You would think we would have figured some things out by now. But it’s quite the opposite. Things are worse than ever, and 24 hour news is a continual reminder of this.

Jesus is the hope of the world. He is the hope for us all as a collective humanity, and he is the hope for each of us personally. He’s not an option. He is the option. The central truth of my life is that “there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved”. There is one name, and his name is Jesus Christ. If you want to know everything I stand for, everything I believe in, everything I hope in, that sums it up right there.

Lift your drooping head, and strengthen your weakened hands! We do not wait for hope as one waits for the lottery to call your number. No, we wait for hope as those who stand on rock-solid assurance that Jesus will fulfill his promises. How can we know? The empty tomb. The strongest force on earth was not strong enough to keep down Jesus Christ. Want to know why? Because Jesus is not of this world. He owns it; indeed he created it. And he promises to restore it to its former glory. When the time comes Jesus will reverse the curse and bring healing, restoration, and fullness of life. He will do that for all who put their hope in him, and we will enjoy life in the renewed creation where all of the junk of this world will be forever in the past. That day is coming. I, for one, can’t wait for it. Come, Lord Jesus!

For those who think I’m spewing a bunch of religious nonsense, I only have one question that I ask you to seriously ponder. Why would you not want me to be right?

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