Hope Amid Hopelessness

One of the things I look forward to each fall is the new TV line-up.  I love a good story and the fall series premieres promise any number of new stories.  I also have this dream of being in on the ground floor of the next big series, the one everyone is talking about.  I know that time and other constraints will limit my TV investment, so each fall I try to pick very carefully.  And each fall I fail and my shows are usually cancelled after just a few episodes.  So, I’m usually left playing cultural catch up.  What’s on?  What’s most popular?

One of the most troubling things about some of the most popular shows recently, is that I don’t know who I am supposed to root for.  I can’t find the hero.  The protagonist is just the least wicked of the main cast and sometimes just barely.  And with this lack of a hero, there is a lack of hope.  No one is coming to help.  Things will never get better.  These are the narratives that capture millions of viewers each week and even more advertising dollars.

Christians have a better narrative, a true story, with a real hope.  If the rider on the white horse racing to save the girl is a good story, how much better the rider who made the horse and who gives it its strength, who rides with the confidence that the dragon has already been defeated.  If the story of the man who takes a bullet so that another might live a little longer on this Earth is compelling, how much more so the story of the One who died in our place and came back to life so that all who believe would live forever? 

The prophets we’ve been studying hoped in the One who would come, the One who would save, even though they only had fragments of the story.  How much more should we hope, and live in such hope, given that we have the whole story!  The Bible says that the prophets longed to see what we have seen.  

But do we live like we really believe the Gospel story, like we really do hope in Christ?  It’s easy on Sunday mornings to chuckle at Pastor Jonathan when he tells us that, “Jesus is real, guys!”  Of course He is, we know that, right?  But what about Sunday afternoon through Saturday night?  Do we believe that Jesus is real in a way that saturates us in a living hope?  Do we drive to and from work as hopeful people?  Would our co-workers characterize us as hopeful despite circumstances?  What about our families?  Or friends?  Do our individual stories reflect the hope of the Gospel story?  Does the story of Cities Church demonstrate the hope found only in Jesus?

I fear that too often we indulge and even encourage the hopelessness of the stories that fill our culture. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let’s seek him together now.

Prayer of Confession

Father, there are a great many things around us that would tell us there is no reason to hope.  Global calamities and strife, local disasters and even personal tragedy join with the ever-growing din of this world in which fallen people, marred by sin, continue to collide with one another.  It can be so easy to believe the cultural narratives that implore us to despair.  And too often we give in and we let our guard down.  We believe the lie that this is all there is and things will never get better.  We numb ourselves with hopeless TV shows. 

Father, forgive us for our lack of hope.  Forgive us for the distractions we allow into our lives that cause us to lose sight of who you are.  Help us, God, and cause us to turn and to meditate on your Word and be reminded that we were separated from Christ and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus we who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

We know, Father, that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst or in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. So we confess our individual sins to you now.