Have Hope! God Can Turn Your Messes Into Order
My wife and I are in the middle of moving from one Ohio town to another. What a mess. We’re in our new home now, with a few things (too many!) remaining yet to move from the old one. Everything’s scattered. Hardly anything is where it should end up.
One of the reasons we’re doing it is to reduce the work we have to do, keeping up our house: We’re moving from one-and-a-quarter acres to a townhouse. But today I look at the piles and the boxes and I think, “This is less work?! We must be crazy!” But that’s today. I’m confident we’ll see it differently when we’re all moved in.
There’s a principle at work here, one that applies almost everywhere: Sometimes to make something better you have to make it worse first. Ask anyone who’s ever had joint repair surgery: It gets a lot worse on the way to getting better. But the examples don’t have to be so drastic. You can’t even sweep out your garage without rearranging everything. Of course we’ve all got our own responsibilities to shoulder, but God is the one whose character we can count on.
Nothing displays this like the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus defeated death — by dying. And then by rising from the grave.
Hope, From the Small Scale to the Great
Which gives me hope, and not just for the condition of this new home (which we think is going to be great. That is, after a decade or two of unpacking and deciding where to put things).
It gives me hope in everyday things. For me that includes writing. I’d guess about one article in a hundred comes out decent on the first draft. They all start out in disarray: paragraphs in the wrong place, “their” when I meant “they’re,” and arguments that take unexpected turns right in the middle.
It gives me hope in greater things. I’ve got one of those joint repair surgeries coming up again. I’ve been there six times before. I don’t have certainty that my foot will heal perfectly afterward this time, but I know God will bring good out of it all.
It gives me hope in global things. The entire Western world is getting worse in multiple ways, especially morally. Even where we’re improving — awareness of racism and sexism, for example — we’re flailing at solutions more than succeeding in them.
God is still in charge, and He’s got a good outcome planned. Remember how it was in the Old Testament? Israel and Judah were a mess, worshiping idols, oppressing the weak, sinning sexually, ignoring the prophets. God sent them into exile for it all. It was a brutal process, starting with siege warfare, continuing into famine and starvation, leading to the whole nation being uprooted for 70 years.
Yet it worked. It worked so well, centuries later it’s still working: It cured them of their idolatry. The Jews who returned to their homeland were absolutely committed to worshiping one God. And the Jews have been “fiercely monotheistic,” as more than one writer has put it, ever since.
God considered it worth letting things get worse for them, on the way to getting better. He may well be doing the same for the Western world today. It could even be He’s setting the stage for Jesus’ soon return. We can’t know that for sure.
But we do know there’s room for hope. No matter how messed-up things may appear, there’s always place for hope in our lives — because God is a God who turns death into victory, despair into hope. I’m trusting He’ll even keep us on track as we work to turn boxes and boxes and boxes, and stuff piled everywhere, into order.