…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you… (Ephesians 1:18).
Gone are the days when the news is about disseminating information. Now it is all about pushing a narrative (I’m talking about what used to be mainstream news outlets). The narrative makes it sound like Democrats are for helping the average American and Republicans want to throw your grandparents off a cliff. Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists are peaceful protesters (as the buildings and vehicles they torched burn in the background) while people who go to church on Christmas Eve must be punished for endangering lives.
If you love God and believe America is an exceptional nation founded by people who personally sacrificed greatly to ensure everyone has the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” then it seems as if the nightly narrative is that you and those of your ilk are the problem and a “solution” is in the making.
It is depressing and the culture war shows no sign of abating. As a matter of fact, with Democrats now holding the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress, it is a given that God-fearing freedom-loving Christians are going to be in the crosshairs of those driven by hate for the foreseeable future. The worry, fear, and angst among the faithful is as palpable as the bitterness, vitriol, and hatred is among the Left. The space where both sides can peacefully coexist has literally vanished.
America has become a house divided even more than it was during the Civil War. Then it was a single issue that divided the country. Now, there is hardly a single issue that opposing sides agree on. Violence and pestilence ravaged America in 2020 and neither show any sign of letting up in 2021.
It is tempting to cry out like David (when all seemed to be going wrong in his life and kingdom):
I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:9)
He answers himself twice in that psalm:
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God (42:5; 11).
That’s it? When righteousness seems to crumble at your feet and all that is evil springs forth into seeming iron fortresses all David counsels is hope?
Yes. But for David and other biblical writers hope is not the last resort. Rather, it is a clarion call to the faithful to take up spiritual arms and enter the battle. In the very next psalm David cries out,
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! (Psalm 43:3)
That's right. The battle is won, not by calling on God to destroy your enemies or rectify your situation but by crying out to be led into His presence! The hope that David speaks of is the prescience of praising Him where He is.
Our souls will always be cast down and our enemies will always have the upper hand when we stride arrogantly and overconfidently away from God. We have to return. Not to the good times but to the good One. Not to the better circumstances but to Him who is holy. Hope is the pathway that leads us back into His glorious and immutable presence.
David wrote of leading a “procession to the house of God” (Psalm 42:4) and letting light and truth “bring me to your holy hill” (Psalm 43:3). In the New Testament, James says that God will exalt us when we have humbled ourselves “before the Lord” (James 4:10). Biblical hope is not the desire for God to rectify our circumstances (to our liking) but for our souls to be rectified in front of Him.
The key to understanding the 42nd and 43rd psalms is the first two verses of Psalm 42 [emphasis mine]:
As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
The problems that follow causing David great sorrow and depression are not caused by the changes in his life but by a life that has changed location. He strayed out of God’s presence. And so have we.
We need to find our way back into His presence.
You know the psalm that predicts the Messiah would not be abandoned in Sheol nor would His body know corruption (Psalm 16)? Right after saying that David says,
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (16:11).
There is a reason that verse follows the one about death and corruption. As worrisome and scary as the place where our country seems to be heading, there is a pathway leading to assurance, clarity, and joy.
I hope you find it.