The Resurgence of Hope in the Absence of Reason
As a child, one Bible verse always fascinated me because it was so difficult to imagine. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, KJV). The idea that God was extending an open invitation to anyone who desired to trade ideas, have conversation and create a place natural enough that sin would not interrupt the flow of exchange seemed unfathomable.
As we mature, our views change and we don’t often see things in such literal ways, especially when it comes to what we are taught as promises. This is because we learn over time that life is complicated and that answers from heaven, while not withheld, are often terribly delayed.
As we reflect on 2020, how should we bring it to God? Is the invitation to reason still open? How long should we wait to hear back from God, and what should be made of this?
At the onset of this year, our plans to reach our community were made with prayer, creativity and strategy, believing that we would accomplish all we had set our hearts to do. We recognized the need for hope in our community and in our nation — a need to be not only transcendent but also tangible. We had no idea that in the end, we would be the ones that would need it the most. The pause that this worldwide pandemic would demand caused us to see in ways that we had not before. If everything that we were doing could no longer be done, would our plan still work?
We had become so dependent on what we were able to do in a building that we were unbalanced in how we were evaluating ourselves. As excited as we were to see our attendance and giving outpace all that we have seen in the past, we were missing what God was doing in the hearts of those who were coming, which was much more phenomenal.
God was teaching us that we can only give what we have. Hope is not something that can be shared without being experienced first. The depth of our knowing qualifies the authenticity and sincerity of our message. Evangelism in this new era needs to be more than proclamation of a better future but rather grounded in a demonstration of a better today, lived by those who have learned to be generous with their source of hope and strength.
Our evangelistic meetings were more meaningful and impactful this year because we didn’t attempt to sell hope, we sought to share it. We didn’t have large numbers of viewers or baptisms and we don’t have any stories of miraculous conversions. However, we can report that God’s promise is true and the invitation is still open to “reason together.”
As the gaps of understanding around reasons why the onslaught of violence and sickness remain unfilled, hope has found a new place in the hierarchy of what Is essential for the church. Looking forward, we are encouraged in the fact that God has not abandoned his people and our work is far from being finished.