Sunday, November 04, 2012

On Hope and Change

In a fallen world, it is no wonder that we tend to associate hope with change. Life is too much filled with death and depravity, disappointment and despair. Naturally, we long for things to be different.

In a temporal sense, it may be appropriate to pursue hope by seeking change, whether that be by personal or political means. However, in an ultimate sense -- theologians would say in an eschatological sense -- hope is found in that which does not change. "For I the Lord do not change," we are told by Malachi.

Malachi follows that statement by saying that as a result of God's changelessness, God's covenant people were not consumed. In other words, the God that does not change will therefore keep His promises, and that can be relied upon even when the world around seems to be falling apart. This also means that the day will come when death and depravity, disappointment and despair, will be swallowed up in victory when He fulfills all of His promises and makes all things new. We see these promises expressed in Romans 8, where, after talking about suffering, the Apostle Paul says that we ultimately "know that all things work together for good" for believers. How can we know that? Well, Paul says, those whom God foreknew, he chose, and justified, and glorified. God already gave His Son for us -- that which was most valuable to Him -- so we can be sure He would not withhold anything else. Therefore, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Whatever the current circumstances, we can be confident that God is keeping His covenant.

I read recently the blog of a professional acquaintance who said that he would be "miserable" if his prediction about the outcome of Tuesday's election turns out to be wrong. Certainly, elections are important, and I will be disappointed on Tuesday if the candidate I vote for does not win, even as I find that much about the country disappoints me regardless of the winner on Tuesday. Even so, it is important to remember that the condition of our souls, and the ultimate hope for our future, and for the future of our children, does not depend on temporal change or on the future or solvency of the country, but on the God who does not change, and who keeps His promises.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I should add that this confidence should not engender an escapist mindset, with the result that we would sit on our hands and wait for the end. Rather, it should give us boldness to engage our world with confidence that our efforts, in both word and deed, will benefit our neighbors and be for God's glory. Confident assurance is not the opposite of active engagement, but it is the opposite of cynical indifference engendered by a hopeless fatalism. To the contrary, amidst trouble, we have hope in Christ and the opportunity to share the same with those who see only death and depravity, disappointment and despair. Such is the Christian task in this world.

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