We wake up to problems.
Problems in the world. Problems in our text messages. Problems in our hearts. We have problems of every shape and size. We have problems near and problems far. We have problems that we have to figure out, and soon.
A couple days I woke up feeling especially heavy about these things, about problems in general. Melissa and I had hung out late with some friends the night before. We had talked way past the proverbial bedtime, and it was one of those late nights, and one of those talks, that makes you feel like it never really ended but just sort of got paused, and then the first person to wake up the next day is the one who has to close things out, even if by yourself in the quiet, left to your own thoughts. So I was doing that. . . .
My friend has had a troubled life. He’s seen some hard things. A couple decades as a city fireman would have been enough for that. He’s lost count of how many people he’s seen nose dive off bridges, either in the river or the highway — it’s all bad he said. And this would have been enough, except that he is a Gulf War veteran too, a veteran who, as a late teenager, remembers when Saddam bombed the Kuwaiti oil fields and the middle of the day became blacker than the middle of the night. He was there, on the ground, seeing it all, breathing it in.
There are more stories of things he’s seen, things he’s heard, stuff in his own life. And I’m waking up thinking about it. It’s digging its heels into my head. My chest is congested with hevel. Do I cough this up? Do I drink some water? Do I read the Bible?
Of course, it’s read the Bible.
It was already open in front of me, right between my elbows that held up my hands that cradled my head, which was facedown, feeling all heavy like I’ve already said. And then I read these words:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope. . . .
It’s worth reading a couple more times, or a hundred. Blessed be God! Blessed be God! Blessed be God!
So we’ve got our problems, me with mine and you with yours, and then all the problems of the world, and yet there is a God who is real and blessed. There is a God who is worthy of our worship. There is a God who, according to his great mercy — which is enough to stop us cold in our tracks. Mercy? Who ever decided it should be mercy? And he even says great mercy. That’s not what I deserve. That’s not what I should expect. That is what it is, though, as clear as it could be. We’re talking about mercy now.
And it is mercy from which he (talking about God) has caused us (talking about you and me) to be born again to a living hope. Now we’re talking about hope. But it’s not just any hope. It’s living hope. It’s living, breathing, changing-everything-from-the-way-it-used-to-be hope. This is a hope that does things. This is a hope that works and reworks and gets in the cracks of our souls, beneath the pain, over the wounds, penetrating the confusion and recalibrating the heart.
And so I decided I’m waking up to that instead. Because it is there, right there in front of me, brand new for this moment, this morning, this day. For you and for me.