The glass door opened in front of me, and my daughter and I stepped, masks on, into the office supply shop. I felt my body tense up with uncertainty but then noticed the arrows on the floor guiding the flow of traffic in the store. We tentatively walked to the shelf containing the type of notebook my daughter needed, and we stared at the options, trying to find exactly the right kind without touching anything. I admit that I relaxed a bit when we exited the store, notebook in hand, having successfully avoided being fussed at for breaking some sort of rule.
As I write, the world is neck-deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the word uncertainty best describes what many of us feel these days, both on macro and micro levels. We’ve been living in varying degrees of lockdown situations, and now many of us are navigating the gradual lifting of restrictions but still feeling unsure about what we’re actually allowed to do. The normal degree of uncertainty that comes with cross-cultural living, often in a foreign language, has been magnified by the many effects of this terrible pandemic.
What should we do with all of this uncertainty? What hope does the gospel offer?
Sometimes we use the word hope to speak of uncertainties of the future: statements like “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” or “I hope we’re able to go on a vacation this summer” don’t necessarily bring much certainty to the potential lack of rain or vacation.
But the hope we have as Christians differs from this wistful hope about the weather or our travel plans. In speaking of faith, Hebrews 11 defines it using words like “assurance” or “confidence” or “conviction” (all words that denote certainty) of things “hoped for” and “not seen.” That hoped-for and not-seen future is absolutely certain because our faith is in Jesus, in His life, death, and resurrection, and the unseen-yet-sure reality to which His finished work points.
Nothing can shake Jesus from His throne or challenge the victory He has already won. Not viruses, not questions about masks or rules, not economic struggles, not even death. Christ is our sure hope in life and death, and because of that sure hope, we live in this world, whether stormy or calm, with compassion and confidence.
In what earthly things are you tempted to place your hope? How has the pandemic or other recent struggles in your life revealed the instability of those things?