The news has been bleaker than usual. Horrific attacks in Paris. Thousands of terrified refuges without a home or a future. A hotel stormed in Mali. Continued racial tensions on college campuses and in Minneapolis. Child-trafficking. A growing heroin epidemic. It tempting to feel hopeless.
Maybe that’s why my heart is so drawn to Isaiah. The news in Isaiah’s day was also bleak. A powerful neighbor called Assyria was bearing down on Israel, destroying towns and cities and carrying God’s people into exile. Life must have felt like a dead stump, without hope.
But into that bleakness Isaiah cast the bright light of a promise. God would birth new life from the seeming deadness of their lives. And because God was with them, they could afford to live with hope.
That’s a great word for us, especially when we’re tempted to slip into hopelessness. We are not alone. We are not forsaken. God, who spoke a word and created light out of darkness, is still at work in this world. It’s good to be reminded that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1).
That’s why we’re a people of hope and not just optimism, a hope that doesn’t just bring us comfort but moves us to action. My friend, David Lose, once put it this way:
For while optimism assumes things will soon get better, hope testifies that whether things get better or worse yet ultimately God’s good will for us and all creation will prevail. And rooted in that promise, we can take action today, standing with the good, opposing evil, and doing what we can, not because we expect or need to save the world, but rather because we believe that since God will save the world we are free to throw ourselves into taking care of the little corner of the world in which we find ourselves. Hope that is fragile, brave, and invites us to action.
So, what do you need to live in hope today? How can you be a sign of hope for others today?
Got another 60 seconds? Let this brief video give you a smile and a little more hope. Click here.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.