What a year we have had. We have run out of adjectives to describe the situation which the pandemic and shutdown have produced. Virtually every aspect of our lives has been touched in this season. There are concerns about health and fears about death. Concerns about jobs and financial stability. Social and community unrest: protesting, rioting and looting. For many, the canceling of in-person education. A virtual shutdown of most all professional sports. The shuttering of Broadway plays, concerts and performances. For many, there is limited ability to meet in person for church and worship. Families have been stacked together for months – and while some have thrived, others have frayed. Deep political divisions and disagreements over the appropriate response to the crisis have further strained relationships.
All this chaos raises a key question: what have you been hoping in?
When there is concern about a person’s heart, they might be prescribed a “nuclear stress test”. The point of the test is to expose any weaknesses or dangers hidden in the heart so that they can be treated. These last five months have been a “stress test” for our hearts. What have you been hoping in? If it was in one of the things listed above, that hope has been deeply shaken. It feels awful to have your confidence crumble. However, God does not want us to place hope in our health, money, community, education, social activities—or anything other than Himself. The writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament had similar concerns for his audience – that they would find a durable hope. Speaking of God’s voice, he says:
At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
It hurts to have our world shaken. It hurts to have things we value & worked for ruined. However, it is an even worse thing to miss out on an eternal relationship with God because we are too busy pursuing all the breakable and temporary treasures of the earth. God made us to be indestructibly happy and hopeful in Him. This is the solid rock under our feet when everything else shifts; to treasure forgiveness of sin and a relationship with God more than anything else that life can give now, or that death can take later.
While we miss public events and community and grieve over the troubles of these past months, let’s not miss the opportunity to change our focus. If those treasures have subtly taken the place of God and His promises, this time of trial can prove to be a great gift to us. Let’s find an unbreakable hope in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom which He has guaranteed by His own life–and promised to bring in the fullness of time.