1 Peter 1:3
“he has given us new birth into a living hope…” (NIV)
Unfortunately, we live in a time of increasing despair.
Last year, a front page New York Times article titled “U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to 30-Year High,” highlighted the sobering fact that overall suicides rose 24% between 1999 to 2014. The increase in the last 8 years was double that of the first 7 (which means it’s getting worse, faster). The suicide rate tripled for girls ages 10 to 14, and rose in almost every other racial and gender category.
Various people tried to explain it. Some said it must be due to economic factors or low job prospects. But not a single person mentioned faith or God. Only one, Harvard professor Robert Putnam, mentioned the word “hopelessness.”
It’s easy to get sucked into the prevailing hopeless outlook of the culture around us. It’s as if there’s a turbo-charged magnetic pull with the strength of ten roller coasters invisibly careening through every home.
So we need to constantly remind ourselves that we are, when we are at our best, people of hope. But this doesn’t mean shallow optimism or look-the-other-way denial.
To be hopeful is to have confidence that God’s plan will be revealed in the end—that one day, all things will be made beautiful again, and that you and I can be a part of God’s sneak-peek foretaste of that beauty in the here and now.
It’s easy to be overrun with cynicism. After all, that’s the turbo-charged magnetic pull with the strength of ten roller coasters invisibly careening through your home. But don’t give in. As G.K. Chesterton said, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
When he was a boy, Hugo Gryn was a prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Even in the middle of a dire situation, his father went to great lengths to observe the special Sabbaths and Jewish festivals. On a particular evening his father took a piece of string and put it in a bit of butter so they could have a Sabbath candle.
Hugo exclaimed: “Father, that is all the butter we have!” But his Father calmly replied: “Without food we can live for weeks. But we cannot live for a minute without hope.”
By Matthew Ruttan