This week I feel burdened for the countries that are experiencing deep loss and pain. I have heard of four attacks in four days — in Manchester, Bangkok, the Philippines and Egypt — and my heart is left heavy. In fact, “heavy” is such an understatement for the horrific events that have happened across the globe.
This week, I feel small and a little helpless in light of the news.
As Christians, how do we live with hope in the midst of so much evil?
Hope in the Psalms
As I pondered this question, I remembered a passage that stood out to me. In Psalm 37:23-24, David writes,
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.
In the context of the passage as a whole, David is contrasting the “wicked” and the “righteous.” The wicked have no eternal hope, but the righteous have an unwavering assurance of the hope in the Lord. As I read it, I kept thinking about how no matter what we face in this life, we have the promise of eternity, and God has the final word. Nothing can take that away.
As I studied this passage, I found myself thinking about the wicked and the righteous differently this time around. Here’s what I realized: There is a cause behind the wickedness we see in mankind, and there is a hope in the righteousness we find in Jesus.
Let me break that down a little more. Satan wants nothing more than to see us destroy ourselves in sin. 1 Peter 5:8 even describes him as “a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” So when I thought of the wicked, ultimately, I thought of him. Yet one day he will be defeated, and sin will be no more in the eternity of heaven.
There will be eternal victory for those that put their hope in what Christ has done on the cross.
Now, the Psalmist was referring to actual people when he used the terms wicked and righteous. But I think it’s important to remember what’s behind those terms. The wicked are wicked because of sin, and sin is construed by Satan himself. Think back to the Garden of Eden as he was tempting Adam and Eve in the garden. He is constantly seeking a way to drive us from perfect unity with God.
Yet the righteous are righteous because of Christ. He — and he alone — offers hope.
Hope in our Daily Lives
No matter what happens in this life, we who trust in Christ never have to live without hope. Yes, sometimes we will face what one 16th century writer called a “dark night of the soul,” where we go through deep pain, bringing us to a place of greater understanding of our relationship with God. And when we read the headlines, it’s easy to have many “dark nights of the soul.”
But hope goes beyond feeling and circumstances. And hear me out: God does not leave you, even in your darkest moments.
How, then, does this give me hope on a daily basis? How does this give me hope when wickedness is everywhere — in the headlines, in our communities and in our lives?
Maybe simply knowing the righteous person’s eternal destination gives you hope, and that’s awesome. But for me thinking about eternity can sometimes feel abstract and, honestly, a little terrifying. Sometimes thinking about eternity gives me less of a peace and more of a panic attack. So, again, how do we find comfort in it all, daily and eternally?
In his sermon “Psalm 37: What To Do When the Bad Guys Win,” Steven J. Cole says,
When the bad guys win, submit to God, be content in Him, and do rightly, trusting the Lord to judge righteously.
In other words, as followers of Jesus, we are to believe that God is sovereign and working all things together for the good of those who love him, like the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:28. He can use times of suffering, darkness and pain to make us more like Jesus.
Following Jesus in the Darkness
So we need to ask ourselves this question:
Do we really believe that becoming more like Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer?
- If the death of a loved one allows us to become more like Jesus, is He still worth following?
- If the loss of approval from someone we care about allows us to become more like Jesus, is He still worth following?
- Even if losing our own lives brought Him more glory, would Jesus be worth it?
At the end of the day, Jesus has the final word — now and forever. We can rest in that. But on a daily basis, we need to reevaluate how much we truly value becoming like Him.
Can we honestly say that becoming like Jesus is better than anything else that can validate our existence? If so, we can more clearly see the incredible weight involved in this calling and begin to experience the power of His provision when we abandon everything to seek Him first.
This can give us hope — even when the headlines are bleak.
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