A friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Children are dying from preventable causes every day. Many countries are experiencing violence and upheaval. Drought in the US. Political paralysis and inaction. Corporate corruption is exposed every day. Lots of finger pointing and shouting. It seems that at all levels of life the world is indeed a mess. And the mess reflects the despair in which many live. Is there any room for hope?
Thinking about the world from a faith perspective I know that it will one day be healed and made whole again. In the meantime I believe we are all invited to do the work necessary to make that happen whether we will ever see the results of our work or not. My faith tells me that the outcome of what we do is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is only to do the work that leads to healing and wholeness. It is God’s responsibility to determine the outcome.
You might ask how I came to this conclusion. My answer is through a lifetime of experience and reflection. And through my lifetime of experience and reflection I have come up with what one of my friends dubbed “Pastor Ron’s Four Axioms.”
Mind you these four faith statements are not necessarily original or novel. They are, simply put, the way I understand the world. These statements are what give me hope. And so here they are.
“Apart from God, nothing exists.”
God is the creator of all things. This is my starting point, my core understanding of God, and the world. Both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles begin with that statement. (Genesis 1) It also means, if God is a creator then God is always doing something new. It’s what creators do. They create! God is always moving forward into newness, or, put another way, a future filled with hope and promise.
“Trust the process.”
By this I don’t mean any process. If everyone is jumping off of a bridge I am not simply joining them because “everyone’s doing it.” The process is the ever forward moving creative power of God, which is called love in the Judeo-Christian scriptures. There are times, many times I’ve found, when I am called to be loving when I don’t really want to be loving. So I try to be loving anyway because that is God’s process and I am going to trust in it. Worse yet, there are times I have been called to be forgiving when there was no way I wanted to forgive, but I forgave anyway because that is what God has asked us to do. (Matthew 18:21-34)
“God will bring something life-giving out of wrong or evil choices”
By life-giving I mean that which is in our best interest. God wants what is best for us and constantly “calls” us into that which is best for us. The problem is God’s call is often like a whisper and all the while the world is shouting at us. Hope comes from believing that, despite the evidence of the moment, God is already at work creating the possibility for life. And this leads to my fourth axiom.
“The worst thing that can happen is NOT the last thing to happen.”
This is really my core understanding of resurrection. For every Good Friday in our lives and in the life of the world there will be an Easter Sunday. God has the last word, and that word is life.
There you have it. My “Four Axioms.” They are the framework of my faith and ground me in hope even when all hope seems lost.
What do you hope in and believe?