Discover more from Things I Wrote Down
From hooped to hope. Try this.
Assailing despair with this proven anchor.
Is there hope?
While the reporter asked the Q about a specific issue, I think this question is being asked by a lot of people about a lot of different things in these times. Is there hope for change? Hope for my situation? Hope for things to turn around?
If you stop for a moment and ask the question, perhaps say it out loud or apply it to a situation in your life, the question can dig into you. Tunnel through your heart and mind.
What does the question uncover or exhume? The great news is that you don't have to find the hope within yourself. What relief!
There is hope. But it’s not guaranteed that we, individually, will experience it. While hope is available and very real, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”; hope must be seized.
Hope is not some wishful aspiration, a mantra we recite and therefore achieve through some cause-and-effect altruism. It is a vital commodity emerging from a promise of God and flowing from his character. It is an anchor—a treasure, even—that we receive and can hold onto, fixed and hidden in God.
Take hold of hope.
To take hold of hope is to flee despair like a refugee. To become unhomed in the fear and wreckage of any troubling situation and find a new place of security in God.
Stop and think about that. Hope is a desperate, even heroic act.
As I’ve unpacked the concept of Remnant, I’ve pulled out some interesting lessons from the time of Elijah as he interacted with kings, witches, prophets and widows.
When Elijah started to spiral into despair and went to the mountain to ask God to take him out of the game, he didn’t flee to hope (even though he went to God who could grant it) but slammed into the wall of his own despair.
Now, it’s easy as an arm-chair Bible scholar to criticize the great heroes of the faith from the comfort of a home office. It’s ridiculous for me to even consider criticizing Elijah! My aim isn’t criticism, though. Instead, I want to foreground something I think scripture shares for our benefit, all these centuries later.
If Elijah—the towering prophet who held more faith and power in his outer coat than most of us have summoned in our entire wardrobe—if Elijah experienced despair, it’s likely that we will too.
But there’s only one way to flee despair. And all of us—even Elijah—can get it wrong. We can even go to God and not land in hope! Elijah went to meet God on the mountain, but how he approached the mountain was wrong.
We must go to the mountain (which for us is a metaphor for entering the presence of God). And as we go to the mountain, like Moses and Elijah did, we must do it in a particular way. We must step out and flee despair and take refuge in God.
We go to the mountain (or behind the curtain as the author of Hebrews quips) into God’s presence to acknowledge that we’re hooped without God. But in that place our hooped can become hope.
Yes, our boat is too small and the stormy ocean is too big. And it is in this state of honest acknowledgement that we can take hold of the anchor for our souls that keeps us from capsizing.
But we have to be willing to let go of the despair and look away from the enormity of our circumstances. Even if doom feels inevitable, we must unhook our heart from it and look to the enormity of God. Tether our hearts to Him.
In every successive age, when it has seemed for a while as though God were beaten out of His own world, and black and impenetrable darkness had completely over-powered the light, that has only been the false vision of men and women who have not been able to enclose the Divine horizon at one glance. Somewhere or other, although it may not have been discernible to the ordinary vision, the light has still been burning.
—G. Campbell Morgan
The above quote from G. Campbell Morgan dazzles me.
Morgan shares those words in a passage looking at Elijah and how, in the agony of his disappointed spirit Elijah said, “I, even I, only, am left,” to which God replied, “I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal.”
I take this as encouragement. And you should too.
There are always others with whom we can find hopeful camaraderie. People who understand what we face and, like us, will flee despair to take hold of hope.
We can find this Remnant through the stories and heroes of scripture, in our own faith communities and, I know, right here on this platform.
Here's to desperate, heroic acts of hope in our times.
Watch the interview about our new documentary series:
Like what you’re reading? Read more Remnant content, including:
See Hebrews 6:13-20 - what a passage!