true hope in a troubled time

As an American in tune with the news of the day (and often the hour thanks to news radio), I find it inescapable to realize that life as we’ve known it is undergoing a drastic change. People are losing their assets, their jobs, their homes, and with all of it their hope.  Or are they?

It seems as if we as a culture are experiencing the reality that hope cannot be stored in money. It’s a truth we try not to live by as Americans who are wealthy by the world’s standards. We buy what we do not need with money we do not have. And at some point, the security promised by money and material possessions evaporates. Yet that fits with ancient wisdom. Listen to this, penned centuries ago by a Biblical writer: “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” And see if this doesn’t sound like it was written just for us today: “There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost.” Both are from the book of Ecclesiastes, found in the Old Testament (chapter 5, verses 10, 13, 14).

The question before us today is similar to the one that confronted the philosopher of Ecclesiastes. What is worth living for and hoping in? Our American answer for troubled times is quite different than that of Ecclesiastes. It’s as if we’ve shifted our hope from Wall Street to the White House. The new President will be our savior. He will bolster the economy with his proposed tax cuts (and raises), reform healthcare in the U.S. either through a tax credit or by offering a universal plan, bail out bad mortgages, bring peace to the Middle East. Really? All of that power will be held by one man?

I beg to differ. I think our hopes are misguided if we think either Obama or McCain can do all that’s promised. On November 4th, I will be going to the polls to cast my vote as a responsible citizen, but I have a hope that transcends the outcome of the election (one way or the other). God is King over all, and His Kingdom is one that can’t be shaken (regardless of how much my earthly kingdom is shaken). It will be realized one day.

I don’t know when, but I am hoping because I see evidence of that Kingdom already breaking in on earth. My life has been changed by Jesus Christ. And it is being changed by Jesus Christ. I am not yet what I will be, but there are glimpses and hints. Seth and I don’t fight as often or as tenaciously as we did in our first year of marriage. I give in more often (and so does he). I don’t say everything that pops into my head. I think before speaking (amazing concept, I know). When I inevitably screw up, I am slightly quicker to ask forgiveness from him. And I could go on. If I am being changed, and I see others’ lives who are being changed in similar ways through a relationship with Christ. Through Cresheim Valley Church and my job as a counselor at Chelten Baptist Church, I am part of communities of people whose lives are being transformed (and I get to watch and sometimes be part of that!). There is hope that transcends our shaky economy and uncertain politics.

And the writer of Ecclesiastes agrees. He sums it up as follows: “That’s the whole story. Here’s my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” (chapter 12, verse 13)

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