If Facebook was a country, right now, it’d be the most depressing place on earth. If your timeline is anything like mine, it’s stuffed full of gloomy predictions, desperation, grief-stricken protests and in some cases, anger which has spiked into bitterness.
I have my own feelings and worries too, but as I read, I can’t help but feel hope.
Now I realise that sounds completely ridiculous. Experts are predicting all sorts of economic catastrophes, but still it’s there, nudging away….hope, hope, hope.
I’ve tried to analyse where this (somewhat annoying) sense of optimism is coming from and this morning, after a flick through Twitter, I think I finally began to understand. I feel this oddly misplaced sense of hope, because I know (from unpleasant personal experiences), that when our lives fall into a black hole, it’s often then, that God feels nearest.
That sounds trite and unfair. Why on earth would God allow us to suffer? Does He rejoice in this? Does He want us to feel pain? Does He make these things happen?
No to all of those questions. But the truth is, as humans we’re incredibly self-sufficient and we build up huge infrastructures to keep ourselves safe, to keep us secure from needing anyone, including God. If my pension is in a good place, my income levels are fine, my house paid for, then really I don’t need God.
We were not actually created to be this way. We were created to hang out with, to worship, to be a friend of God. But we’ve found a million and one other ways to fill our days and spiritual gaps, that are easier, less costly, less intrusive.
The truth is, when our man-made structures begin to wobble, we often begin to ask questions, Why am I here? What’s really important?
And some people might even begin to look for God. And when they do, they’ll find Him.
This morning, I was reading a devotional (My Utmost for His highest) and Acts 26:15-18 jumped out. These were the words God spoke to Paul, after he’d been stopped in his evil tracks and given a new mission (one that didn’t involve killing Christians).
“But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you.
“I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.”
So, here’s the thing. What if, in the middle of the catastrophe, the sadness, the acts of terror, the hateful racism, what if we have a job to do? What if this is our moment to bring hope where there isn’t any? What if now is the opportunity of a lifetime to talk to people about the ‘living hope’ that literally transcends every other kind of hope or human-made structure?
I don’t have easy answers. I’m not going to make any predictions as to what will happen next and I don’t know why God allows this shaking, this turbulence.
But I still have hope and I love those words God spoke to Paul, ‘I have a job for you to do.’
If now is the time, are you ready?