Hope for our time.
I’m pregnant with hope right now. Which. Is. Weird. Because, well, things aren’t so good on a global scale. On the way to a conference recently, I had an especially frank conversation with my Uber driver. She’s not so hopeful. She recounted the horror of the shooting in Los Vegas and the hopelessness she felt about the American political system and the results of global warming on the world and lamented the fact that she chose to bring children into this god-forsaken place. And all the time she was sharing, I was trying to listen to her pain, but what I was really feeling was hope. Which. Is. Weird. Why am I feeling hope at a time that seems so perilous and hopeless? And that’s when it hits me.
That’s what hope is for. Hope is for those times. Hope is for these times. For our time. Hope is the defiant expectation that God is able to do what we cannot. That right where things look the most desperate and bleak and hopeless God has a plan to intervene. Hope is what infuses me with a glimpse of a bright future. Hope is what allows me to peel back the curtain on all the chaos of this world and see God at work, bringing His kingdom in ways we can’t possible understand or imagine. Hope.
For many years I saw sexual exploitation as a seemingly inevitable darkness that I would just punch at until some light bled in and now I see an emerging generation of girls become brave through the church strategically reaching out. Literally hundreds and thousands of girls, empowered to be the people they were created to be, the obvious solution to one of the worlds’ fastest growing problems. I can see them and believe in them and want to partner with them to advance empowerment as the solution to exploitation. I feel like Ezekiel standing over a generation of seemingly helpless dead bones and God whispers in my ear telling me to ‘speak life’ and watching with utter amazement as hope blows breath into bones and those bones are the making of a mighty army. Back from the dead. Hope. It’s filling me.
Most of us view the global migration crisis as a problem. Recently a friend of mine broke down a Kingdom strategy that emerged from her prayer room and is now growing into a movement that seeks to connect churches with indigenous churches in refugee camps all over the world. What I saw as a global problem, she saw as a Kingdom solution! The gospel is going where it hasn’t gone before. Then I remembered sitting with a Syrian refugee family in their tent and hearing them asking about Jesus and how they could know Him and I remembered the world relief worker I met in Jordan telling me how these Syrian refugees were very open to the gospel and that in some weird way she was starting to understand that this refugee crisis was an opportunity for God to do what we had prayed he would do for an entire generation! That the gospel could get to where things looked hopeless for kingdom advance. And I was filled with hope again - hope that what looks like utter chaos and pain and suffering might somehow be used to bring healing, hope and freedom to the entire world.
Whether it’s America’s deep seated racism or the Canadian cover up of our First Nations’ pain our current political systems expose a deep injustice that is painful to watch and yet as I watch it unfolding I see it accomplishing so many things; exposing deep wounds, uncovering years of unknown prejudice and oppression, calling people to stand (and kneel) for truth and justice and healing and wholeness.
For wounds to heal, exposure must come first and then treatment. I believe the western world stands at a time of truth and it fills me with hope - despite the obvious pain of hearing and witnessing the brutality of the truth - I believe with all my heart that the truth will set us free and all of this uncovering is getting to a deep wound and I know a Saviour who has a balm, a remedy for the pain, a way to treat the pain of the world - a gospel that isn’t just about words but is all about power - power to live another way, power to forgive, power to bring people to repentance and faith, power to reconcile and heal, power to change things, power to empower people to be witnesses of this freedom for the whole earth.
And that’s not all. A few months ago I spoke in a cathedral in Salzburg on Pentecost weekend to 8000 young catholic kids who wanted to know Jesus and even better than that - wanted to live for Him. Thousands of them poured out of a worship meeting, filled with expectant faith and marched up a massive hill until we could look out over Austria and over Europe and began to let their hope pour out of them through prayer. They prayed for God to do what has never been done before, to unleash the church, to bring healing to the broken, to bring peace to the world, to unify His body, to save the lost and on and on and on it went for hours. And looking back now, I realize that’s where the hope started to rise in me. In what is arguably the deadest area of the church, in one of the oldest churches in history, on Pentecost Sunday, God poured His Holy Hope into me. It came like waves. I was overcome with the possibilities of His Kingdom coming in unprecedented ways, I began to expect a new move of God in the world, and now I see it bursting out everywhere. God’s Kingdom is breaking in and moving out in waves of Holy Hope in this seemingly god-forsaken world. And this hope is compelling me to be part of His Kingdom coming. I hope you’ll join me in this upside down adventure that is the hope of the world.