18 March 2020
Where is Your Hope?
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
Just as the coronavirus was beginning to spread in China, I came down with pneumonia. A hacking cough and fever… Night sweats that dragged on for days and then weeks. Exhaustion set in. I was flattened. But what didn’t set in was hopelessness.
My hope, instead of fading, merely changed its landing place.
Prior to being sick, my hope had become fixed on my efforts, my ‘work for the gospel’. I could speak about God’s love for us shown in Jesus, I could speak about the necessity of trusting in Jesus with all our hearts. But my hope was not in God. It was in me. Church planting success, my success, had become entrenched as my commanding, controlling, impossible-to-please idol. For me, being forewarned did not equate with being forearmed.
Then one night the paramedics were called. Shortness of breath, coughing, a history of being in contact with someone recently returned from China… A scary realisation of my finitude came from nowhere. Why? Isn’t death gain for the Christian? Isn’t that what we teach? Isn’t that what I’ve taught? Why was I scared?
Thanking God, I didn’t have coronavirus. But I would spend another 4 weeks in bed. Tired.
Too tired to read the Bible. Too tired to pray. Not too tired for endless hours of YouTube. My hope had shifted. Church planting didn’t really matter any more. I couldn’t do anything about it anyway. I could barely wash.
So why put my hope in a million videos on everything from ping pong to knife sharpening stones?
So hope landed on distraction; empty-mindedness; numbness.
Whether we feel we can fight or not, the fight remains. The fight to take our hope off of everything that is not God. The fight to take our hope off of what cannot save.
The fight to pray, “Forgive me for my idolatry, help me in my unbelief!”. This is the fight to believe that God loves us as He says He does. We can’t afford to add in our efforts. We can’t afford to disbelieve God’s love for us in Jesus.
Let all of us who believe put our trust in God. Vocally. Consistently. Violently. He will hear, and He will help. And let those of us who don’t believe, run to Jesus. He will hear, and He will help.