When you and I are caught within a swirling, confusing and upending circumstance, we are so fixed on just keeping our heads above water, that when someone comes along with the suggestion that we need to think differently, not only does its sound absurd, but one might feel downright offended.
We by necessity, deal with what is at hand. When a loved one is struggling to breath, we don‘t ask ourself about the way we think. No, we look for a doctor, we search out medical help.
But once the panic has ceased, then ask, how am I seeing this pandemic? What is my first response to my loss of a job, the precipitous slide of my retirement funds or the simple overwhelming numbers of infections and deaths?
• fear triggers panic
• the unknown cascades into anger
• confusion latches on to conspiracy stories
• political bias gets trapped by arrogance
• personal well-being trumps the needs and interests of others.
So, ask, “What is the lense through which I am looking?”
How we see life is called perspective: not what I see, but how I see.
One way of seeing is called hope. This means being realistic, facing reality, seeing what is but believing that all we see is not the totality of what is, nor the final decider, of what in time, it becomes.
Let me use an example of hope. Noah, who secured living animals from a flood, one day was told to look out a window of the ark and see what was in the sky. There arcing across the sky was a multicolored rainbow. Today it is the universal symbol of hope.
And what makes up that hope? What is the essential character of that historic and universal symbol? It is there for us all.
• Noah could have ignored it.
• Noah could have denied that it existed.
• Noah could have pretended it had nothing to do with his circumstance.
• But there it is, promising that this is not the end. After the storm, the sun will shine.
Now this isn’t psychobabble, creating a phony message so we might feel better. In this creation, God, creator and sustainer is here, has always been and always will be here, for you.
And why is that so? I see two reasons:
First, because God is here and on your side.
• He takes that which befuddles us and says, “it is not a mystery to me.”
• He looks in the face of that which brings fear and says, “trust me.”
• He walks the pathways of infection and death and says, “I‘ve been here before and I’m here with you today.”
• Hope is yours for the taking.
Second hope is made up of God’s promise of life. Easter is about two clashing realities: first the death of Jesus was about him taking on evil and death, and then he died. In that cosmic moment, all that is evil, all that is death enhancing, all that is destructive, Jesus took it on himself.
Then – and here is that which ensures that our hope is not fiction – he broke the chains and bondage of evil, and in his rising from the dead, defeated that which defeats us: evil. As we take hold of his promises, in that moment, what we see is itself not changed, but how we see it, is changed.
• God is realistic, he doesn’t ask us to deny what is real.
• God is honest, he doesn’t ask us to pretend that what is, isn’t.
• God is truthful, he doesn’t ask us to turn truths into falsehoods.
My friend, pause, put down your fear, set aside your anxiety, not by pretending things around you aren’t as bad as they are. But by knowing now, in this moment, that the God of creation is with you, he is your defense, protector and above all, a friend.
Here is my prayer for you today:
Creator of life, Savior and king, I understand that:
• Hope helps me see what you offer,
• Hope enables my fatigued mind to grasp your promise,
• Hope opens my eyes to see not only the rainbow, but you here and now,
• Hope generates trust that you will be here for me tomorrow.
Today I choose to trust you. Today I ask you into my life. Please lift the burdens of my failures and fears and bring a fresh renewing of your presence into my life. Then I know you will help me reframe how I see life, so that what is, will be seen within a new awareness that I am yours and you are mine.
Hope in Crisis #2
Brian C. Stiller, Global Ambassador
The World Evangelical Alliance