The news lately is not good: There is war in Europe. Another democracy is under continuing attack – the United States – as people from the Proud Boys to possibly a sitting President sought to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Old demons like inflation and soaring gas prices are shocking us. Experts say the economy is slowing. Scientists say climate change is accelerating. 25% of adults who choose to not have children cite the ecological crisis as why, saying that they do not want to bring children into a world that is about to die. And we are still in a pandemic that refuses to give up the ghost.
But we aren’t giving up the ghost either – the Holy Ghost, that is. And the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, isn’t giving up on us. God is in the mix. So, even though despair tempts us, God holds us; therefore, we can hold onto hope, too.
As my mother got older, she would tell me her list of everything going wrong in the world and she would always conclude, saying: “Things are just getting worse and worse.”
To which I would always reply: “Mom, you aren’t reading your Bible. Things aren’t getting worse. Things are staying exactly the same.” We are still constantly, invariably seduced by the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Human nature isn’t changing. But the good news is that God isn’t changing either. Our Triune God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, is still on the job: working, healing, blessing, loving, reconciling, and making all things new. And when we seek to live life God’s way, we can and will be blessed by the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:5).
How can we move from bad to good? Wisdom helps us. The Spirit of wisdom; she was there – here – from Day One. Before creation was born, she was. And she still is – right here. She is easy to find: Wisdom speaks daily here in this church in recovery meetings and counseling sessions. Wisdom is a way of living that connects us with God. Knowledge about God leads us to obey, but Wisdom from God causes us to understand.
You can obey without understanding. When I take my daily blood pressure medication, I don’t understand the science. I am obeying my doctor. But if and when I change my life; to lose weight and exercise like my doctor has been telling me to do, then that medication won’t be needed. Why? Because I will have embraced being healthy. That wisdom will be alive in me. I will be alive in it. All I have to do is make the right choice and follow through.
I have all the power I need to do that. We all do. But I only have limited power to change the world. No, I can’t do everything, but I can do something. We all can. We have that power. We also have each other – and we have God, who has us. Who has wisdom to give us; vision to inspire us; and hope to move us.
The enemy of Christianity isn’t atheism; it’s apathy. Lowering our expectations of what God can do, which lets us off the hook for doing anything at all. Apathy is the enemy. Hope is the remedy.
Hope isn’t optimism. Optimism believes things will be alright. Hope believes things will be alright because God is at work to make it so. Hope isn’t passive. Hope knows that God is counting on us to do our part. So, we do. For example: We can’t change the past. We cannot undo the tragedy of Afghanistan. But we can act today – and we can change the future. We can embrace the wisdom to partner with God and other local churches to resettle an Afghan family. We can do that. We are doing that with God and each other. And because of that active, wise, hopeful faith, today is better than yesterday – and tomorrow will be better as well.
God is not done with creation or history or humanity or us. God is not done with you. How can you welcome the wisdom that is saving lives and changing the world? How can you live more hopefully and actively to bless, share, forgive, heal, and love? Wisdom says that that is our calling. Faith says that God will accompany us on that way. Hope says that God will bless that way.
What do you say?