Events in the city of Baltimore have stirred a sense of hopelessness in our land. It isn’t that we don’t have the resources to put communities back together, but we are terribly frustrated by our inability to solve the deeper social decay we see around us.
I am not qualified to discuss tactical methods for keeping the peace in challenging cities and neighborhoods. But I do know the scriptures tell us hope cannot be buried by evil. In the book of Revelation, a fifth seal was broken and John saw the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God, and because of their testimony (Revelation 6:9). The souls cried out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to wait “a little while longer” (Revelation 6:11).
God is not mocked. He will make sure justice is served. But, since He has given man a free will, and in His wisdom chosen not to intervene every time wicked people do wicked things, we will also find ourselves crying out, “How long?”
“A little while longer…”
“Obviously, this phrase is figurative. Almost two thousand years has passed since John first recorded his revelation. If Jesus comes to exact justice a year from now, that might count as “a little while longer.” But two thousand years is a long time.
For us, “a little while longer” is rarely any longer than four score and ten (Psalm 90:10). While I am not sure how the souls who have been slain perceive time, I think the point isn’t how long it feels, but rather the inevitability of God’s final judgment. When we are under stress, and circumstances seem hopeless, relief seems illusive. Still, we have God’s eternal promises. Therefore, we should not lose heart.
But enough about us! People who are caught up in the cycle of poverty need hope. Government leaders and law enforcement officers who feel like they are taking two steps backward for every step forward need hope. Parents who feel they have failed with their children need hope. And young people who are being told violence is the only answer need hope…real hope.
I know you might expect me to say Jesus is the hope people need. And you would be correct. He is. Only, He has chosen to work through His church to deliver His message. Please don’t think me sacrilegious in saying so, but God hasn’t given us a “church fairy” that brings hope to the world. And no, the Holy Spirit isn’t the “church fairy.”
You and I are God’s messengers of hope. Followers of Jesus who walk with hurting people in their communities have the potential of keeping hope alive. I am not talking about a temporary hope inspired by clichés, but one built on the cross. Jesus offers living hope for a dying world because He restores hope to human souls by washing them clean and filling them with grace.
Now, more than ever, the world needs hope. I am not defeated by events in cities like Baltimore. I am discouraged, and certainly disappointed. But nothing will ever extinguish the hope of the cross. And as long as there is breath in us, God is calling us share His hope with a lost and dying world.
By the way, you don’t have to go to a riot-torn city to find hopeless people. They are all around you. And they all need Jesus. Share a little hope today with someone you meet! It might be the only thing they hear that keeps their hearts alive.