The Burden of Hope
My heart is burdened. It is longing for justice. I am fatigued and frustrated by the injustice that I see all around me. From within my very own neighborhood to national politics to international affairs, there is much to lament. I often find my heart cries aligning with those of the prophet Habakkuk:
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Hab. 1:2–4, NIV)
People around the world are starving, struggling to live off absurdly inadequate amounts of money while developed nations squander money as though it were limitless. Racial tensions span the globe, from inner-city communities in the United States to indigenous civil wars in African nations. Millions of men, women and children are being held in slavery around the globe. War and conflict are wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent civilians. The environmentally irresponsible actions of developed nations that have caused climate change.
The world is a mess. Anyone can see that. There is much work to be done. But despite mourning in response to what I see happening around me, let me tell you, friends, I have hope. As I lament, I hold steadfastly to the hope that I have in a good God, the God of Justice.
Even though we are often shocked by what we see happening around us, injustice and suffering are not new realities for our world. This world has been hurting since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Chaos ensued in our world since the perfect relation between Creator and creation was fractured by a stupid bite of fruit.
Even still, we can look through the narrative of the Bible and see God’s love, justice, redemption and hope amidst the struggles. Even though Joseph was sold into slavery, God raised him up to be in a position of great power, which later provided him the opportunity to initiate reconciliation with his brothers. Even as the nation of Israel wandered and rebelled their way through the desert, God provided for them and dwelt among them. Even though he knew he would be despised and rejected, Jesus willingly left heaven and walked the earth as a humble servant. Even though Paul enthusiastically persecuted Christians, one encounter with Jesus made him one of the most influential Christians of all time.
We can and must continue to look for instances of God’s hand at work in our world. He is here, friends. We cannot forget that. Even amidst the turmoil, we must look for where light is penetrating the darkness and rejoice in what we see God doing.
We see world leaders coming together to draft the Paris agreement and committing to curb climate change while we still have the chance. We see countries working towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the hopes of making the world a place in which all people can flourish. We see communities uniting together in peaceful protests to urge racial reconciliation. We see the world rallying around an entire team of refugees at the Olympic games. These are just a few examples, and they are all sending powerful messages of hope even amidst the mayhem that swirls around us.
God is not surprised by the current state of our world. He incarnated into this broken humanity to redeem it and establish a Kingdom and a Church to revolutionize it. Jesus grieved and confronted injustice. He ushered in a new way of living, one marked by servitude and humility. A way of living that is defined by loving the least of these, by mercy, by reconciliation, by justice. He proclaimed the Kingdom of his Father left and right; a Kingdom of righteousness and justice unlike anything the world can comprehend.
Jesus began this work and he will return to bring the Kingdom in its fullness. In the here and now, God is moving in our world, revealing his radical Kingdom in ways that we cannot even imagine. There is hope for justice. We must remember the Lord’s answer to Habakkuk’s complaint:
Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. (Hab. 1:5, ESV)
We have hope in the Triune God, the God of Justice, the Prince of Peace, the Great Comforter. Our God is faithful and unchanging; what he did for the people in Habakkuk’s time he is doing in the here and now. We must not forget that God is here. He is moving, working, healing and restoring, just as he has always done.
So even though I often want to just lie down and let the pain and injustice of this world roll right over me, to give up the fight for peace and justice, I will not. I will proclaim a never-failing message of hope. I will continue to look for God’s holy hand among the chaos, and I will walk boldly towards the power and presence of his Kingdom on earth.
Let us labor tirelessly to bring more of this Kingdom. May we be agents of peace, lovers of people, and instruments of justice in our broken world.