Note: This post was first written a few years ago. In the context of recent events, it is just as applicable today.
Our lives and our city are often full of sorrow, disappointment, injustice, pain, and fear. I can think of so many examples of women (and men) I know who are wrestling with hope. A woman unable to get pregnant, despite her and her husband’s many attempts. A woman heart-broken from yet another break-up. A wife trying to walk alongside her mentally-ill husband. A student filled with grief and anger as she copes with PTSD from sexual assault. A woman dealing with the stress of her career. A single mom trying to feed her family. A teacher praying for the students in her failing school. The social worker struggling to find jobs and housing for her clients.
Our world and our own selves are broken, and we have to face this brokenness on a daily basis. All of these situations in our own life and in the world around us, often leave us feeling hopeless. We wonder if God hears us or cares. We wonder if we are left to figure out this life on our own, with God only swooping in for the “big stuff.” And even on “good days” when the sun is shining and we long to bring hope to others, we can often feel ill-equipped and overwhelmed by all of the people and situations that need help and hope. We ask: “How can I care for the homeless man living on the corner? . . . How can I be involved in improving the failing school in my neighborhood? . . . How can I share Jesus with my neighbor? . . . How can I be a part of fighting human-trafficking in my city? . . . What part can I play in systematic issues of injustice?”
Recently, as I was wrestling with many of these questions and as God was beginning to give me His ideas for a conference centered around hope, I decided to search the Bible for every instance in which the word “hope” appears in the Scriptures. As I wrote out pages and pages of verses, my heart was encouraged and my thoughts turned back to God. If I had to sum up these verses in broad strokes, here are two important truths I believe the Bible teaches about hope:
(1) Hope comes from God.
God promises to restore the world. Through Jesus, God is reconciling all things to himself. In Jesus we find our hope — our hope for eternal life, our hope to be made perfect and complete, and our hope for healing. Jesus is certainly the Hope of the nations.
God also gives us hope through the presence of the Holy Spirit who works in us right now, in the here and now. The Spirit comforts us, heals us, guides us, and never leaves us. And through the Spirit we are united with a people who can come alongside us as our sisters and brothers.
(2) God created us to be agents of His hope.
God has created us — as humans and his followers — to be agents of his hope, to be ambassadors of His kingdom to a broken world. We are called to proclaim His hope and to join with God in bringing hope to the world. We bring hope to our world by loving God with our whole hearts and lives, by proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah, and by loving and laying down our lives for our neighbors.
I would also suggest that as a woman, I and other women have a unique calling to be agents of God’s hope, because the first name ever given to us (in Genesis 2&3) was “ezer” – the one who comes when you need help in a battle or dire situation. From the start, women were meant to reflect God’s image, to rule and reign over the earth, and to bring hope in difficult situations.
After the Fall, God doesn’t give up on humanity or on Eve. Instead God announces his plan to one day crush the serpent (Satan) through “her seed.”
Here we see both parts of Hope:
“the seed” = Jesus, who is our ultimate source of hope
“her” = God’s desire to still use Eve (and ezers) to usher in his Hope to the world.
We see this come to fruition not only in the virgin birth, but also at the resurrection when Jesus chooses a woman formerly possessed by demons (Mary Magdalene) to proclaim the good news of his resurrection – a woman ushering in the ultimate hope of the Seed having crushed the Serpent.
We are not meant to live numb, dispassionate lives or to think only of ourselves. No, Jesus calls us to live and love wholeheartedly, and this can be a challenging calling when the world is so broken. Find others who can walk alongside you in this journey and others who can encourage you to cling to God and also to boldly risk for others.