“Do you have any sense of hope?”—Kabul had just fallen, and the news was full of imagery from the captured city. Airport besieged by people looking to get out; terror etched on the faces of some, hopelessness on others. The question came from a thoughtful man, burdened by the mess of the world. For a man deeply sensitive to the pain and plight of others, he felt the weight. “Do you have any sense of hope?”
I knew how he felt—I had had several days in a row of bad news about people I knew and cared about. And I had been on the phone that morning to a friend in Kabul. The brokenness of the world was pressing on me too.
Where do you find hope in a broken world: where violence, injustice and corruption abound, where assaults occur, where terrible accidents happen, where death rudely interrupts?
“Do you have any sense of hope?” He was asking if I saw things getting better, if I could see a way through the mess. He and I were coming from very different perspectives—I a Christian, and he an atheist—and I suppose that’s why he asked.
If anything, the events of the last hundred years or so—multiple wars, genocides, terrorist attacks, corporate and political corruption, sexual abuse and trafficking (not that these are unique to the last hundred years)—show us that despite all mankind’s technological progress, we are a million miles from being the solution to our deepest problems. They should be enough to banish the notion forever that “If we could just try harder, then we could make everything right”. It is nothing less than a futile fairy tale. Despite the good news stories and acts of human kindness, humans are flawed at the core of their being. Looking at man, I see no hope of progress—and that’s exactly what my friend was seeing too.
But the Bible gives me a framework which allows both for the ugliness of the world and the prospect of real hope. It allows a person to be honest about the mess, sceptical of man’s ability to put things to right, and yet to have hope.
Two great truths stand out:
God will transform the world—One day Jesus Christ will make good his promise to return, just like he made good on his promise to rise from the dead. He will make all things new. One day the brokenness will be gone. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Behold I am making all things new.” (Rev 21:4,5) I can have hope amidst the brokenness because I know it is temporary.
God will deal with all injustice—On that day, every act of treachery, deceit, violence, rape, corruption, war, terrorism, genocide will be exposed, and the God of all justice will deal with it. What was done in the dark will be brought to the light. What people thought they had got away with will be brought before them. And God’s justice will be terrible. The prospect of divine justice means I can cope with the injustices of this present brokenness.
How can we know for sure, and how can we be part of the newness and not part of the judgment? We know because the Crucifixion shows that God takes sin seriously, and the Resurrection shows that he can make all things new. And through trusting in what Jesus did at the cross we can enjoy the one and avoid the other. There Jesus bore God’s justice for my sin so that I wouldn’t have to, and so that I could be made new and enjoy all things being made new.
So yes, there is hope.