We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV)
Hope is an alluring and powerful force in the psyche of we human beings. No matter how desperate our circumstances, if we have even the smallest strand of hope to hang onto, that can enable us to rise above the miry pity of misery and suffering and end up victorious in the long run. This synopsis summarizes a vast majority of our favorites stories, both fact and fiction. Especially here in the U.S., books and movies that show us that good can overcome evil, even against the most overwhelming odds or even when all seems lost, tend to succeed since they enable us to believe that anything is possible.
But here is where we need to pay attention to the object of our hope. If we hope in the wrong thing–or rather, place our hope in someone who is not worthy to deliver on that hope–we are on a crash course with disappointment.
Along these lines, I’ve been thinking lately about why this particular presidential election season in the U.S. seems even more partisan and full of vitriol than I ever remember it being (Note: this is not going to be a political blog post!). One answer I’ve landed on is because we all have ideas about how the country should be run and, perhaps even more powerfully, how it should not be run. As such, we tend to place our hope in the candidate who we believe offers the brightest future for our families, our country, and ourselves–or at the very least, the person least likely to really foul things up.
Remember what I said earlier about how powerful hope can be? Well, if I strongly believe a particular candidate stands in opposition to the future I hope for, then it’s likely I will have a strong, even visceral, reaction against that candidate or anyone who supports them. Frankly, on a human level, I have to admit I have wrestled with this myself (although I won’t say which candidate, and I hope you can’t tell!).
So here’s the thing I’ve realized, and I have to keep telling myself repeatedly: When I’m feeling this way, it’s because I have placed my hope in the wrong person.
And no, I don’t mean that I’ve realized I should vote for the other candidate!
Here’s the headline for the breaking news story that shouldn’t really surprise anyone: No politician is going to deliver on everything we hope for. All of them will always disappoint us in meaningful ways (some more than others, of course!). But to be fair to politicians, the same is true of every human being–including ourselves! I don’t care who it is–a spouse, friends, teachers, kids, coaches, sports heroes, military heroes, healthcare heroes, managers, CEOs, workers, etc.–the list goes on and on. Well-meaning people will hopefully not intentionally disappoint us, but they will nonetheless. We are all fragile, fickle, and broken human beings, after all.
There is one, however, who is worthy of our hope. As we saw in the book of Hebrews earlier, if we hope in God, our hope is firm and secure. It’s important that we recognize, though, that where we will spend eternity, as well as the quality of our day-to-day lives right now, are vastly more important than the things we tend to focus most of our energy on–our families, our jobs, our vacations, our stuff. God may not necessarily care about getting you a new TV, but He cares deeply about your relationship with Him, how much you love Him and trust Him. And He wants us to be with Him in heaven so much that God the Father sent God the Son and God the Spirit to enable this.
So whenever I get worked up that one candidate might infringe upon my way of life or my future, I have to remind myself to trust God, to hope in Him alone. One candidate won’t get me to heaven, and the other won’t keep me from getting there! To think any other way is like building a house on quicksand instead of a firm foundation of bedrock, to borrow an idea from Jesus:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”Jesus, in Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
Hopefully all of us are smart enough to choose building our lives upon a foundation of solid rock rather than sand! So why would we anchor our hope in a political candidate rather than the Creator of the Universe?