Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Then the famous chapter goes on to talk about all these people who lived ordinary lives with extraordinary faith. How? How did they manage to be sure of hope? Certain of the unseen?
When I take a good hard look at the world around me I see a lot of brokenness. Violence. Pain. Despair. Grasping for some kind of meaning. It’s like a bunch of people wandering around in the dark.
I see this in the church, too. Sometimes we get caught up in differences, doctrine, rules. We hurt each other. And others. We use the Bible to condemn, to judge, to oppress.
And it’s not like this is a new situation. Read just a little church history and it’s like a bad movie on repeat. A movement starts out with (sometimes) good intentions and quickly we break things. Screw them up. Misunderstand, misinterpret and skew the words of God.
When I see the sorry state we frequently find ourselves in, wandering right along side everyone else in this world, reaching into the dark despair that threatens to consume us, I’m tempted to join. To throw up my hands and say, what’s the use? Where’s the hope?
Then something deep within my being tugs my desperate thoughts back, pulls my arms away from the darkness, and turns my eyes to something forgotten. During Pentecost those gathered were overcome by “tongues of fire,” the Holy Spirit came with light.
We’ve learned how to cover up light. Turn off the light switch. Ignore it. Go far away from it. But when a lightbulb flickers to life in a dark room, you cannot ignore it. It’s blinding presence is like a hot coal. It hurts, it convicts, it cuts away, and it brings life.
I think hope is like a lightbulb, and we each have one inside of us. It’s not something we can create, or sum up, or take credit for. But it is something we can ignore, try to extinguish, or push away.
At first glance the world is dark. At the second perhaps it’s desperate. But look again. There’s light and it’s burning a hope that only comes from God. A hope for something better, something beautiful, something good. Something now.