With the recent coronavirus outbreak, people have turned in a myriad of directions to find hope. Some have turned to the government and medical professionals to protect them, others have turned to miracle cures available for purchase on the internet, still others have turned to superstitions and rituals to provide the defenses that they need to combat this unseen menace.
All of this illustrates that people hope in lots of different things: economic prosperity, global initiatives for solving climate change, better political leaders, educational reform, religion, meaningful friendships and romantic relationships, good food and drink, the newest diet plan, the latest entertainment options and social media platforms, better healthcare—the list is nearly endless.
Not so long ago in America, most people put their hope in a higher power, something or someone beyond themselves. But as the world became increasingly secular and disenchanted, all people could hope in were material (economic, psychological, scientific, political) solutions for what were ultimately spiritual problems manifesting themselves in material ways.
In fact, the Bible talks a lot about hope. But the direction of our hope is not especially material in nature—or at least it shouldn’t be. Our hope for this life is directed to that which—or better, the One who—is beyond it.
The deep irony, of course, is that when you find your hope in something (really, Someone) beyond this world, you are more likely to live your life more fully in this world. And when you only put your hope in the people and things of this world, you are more likely to find your hopes for this life repeatedly disappointed and unfulfilled.
Many of my non-Christian friends are putting their hope in better medicine, a new election, a new educational initiative, a new car, a new spouse, a new. . . . And I understand that. When you have merely material priorities, the only things you can reasonably hope in are material solutions. What grieves me is when Christians fall into the trap of hoping in and caring more about material solutions than spiritual ones. Yes, they are interconnected, but the amount of passion we give to our highest hopes and the direction in which they move us matter immensely.
This is especially true when a crisis like the recent virus outbreak occurs. The world is watching to see if we truly believe, trust, and hope in God above and beyond all other possible hopes. As Psalm 33:20-22 says, “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Indeed, whether we live or die, He is our one and only true hope.
In whom or what are you hoping?