“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
I found myself wishing for my childhood faith this week.
As bombs were dropped and displays of force were (or, more accurately, weren’t) made and missile launches were attempted and failed, I was afraid that this might be it. For me. For us. For humanity. Rationally, I knew we’d made it through tenser moments than this, but it didn’t make this one any less frightening, and so I was afraid.
Childhood me wouldn’t have been afraid. Childhood me had this whole thing figured out. Back then, I believed whole-heartedly in a certain theology of how the world would end and Jesus’ kingdom would be established on Earth. Part of that theology involved seven years of trials and tribulation for the world, but before those seven years began, all of the Christians would be taken up into Heaven to be with God.
So the way I figured it, as long as I was still on Earth, Earth had at least seven years and one day left. Sure, I could still fear for my life individually, but humanity would be fine. Mutually Assured Destruction couldn’t come to pass, or there’d be nobody left to suffer the Great Tribulation.
Somewhere along the way, I lost that view of the future. I lost pretty much all view of the future beyond the most simple of Christian statement on the matter: “I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come.” How that will come into being or what will happen in the meantime is a complete mystery to me. I no longer have a 7 year buffer window.
On days when destruction seems like it might be imminent, not having that belief to fall back on can be scary. But ultimately I think it’s a much more hopeful way of being. Childhood me was confident that certain things couldn’t happen, because they were predestined not to. Adult me? I don’t have that same certainty.
I believe just about anything could happen. I have hope it won’t. I have so much hope it won’t that this week, I’m planning a year’s worth of worship services. I’m spending time in prayer asking God to show me what direction our churches should take for the next year, three years, five years, and beyond. I’m making plans for the future – not just my future, but the future of my family, and the future of our congregations – in the hope that I will be here; that we will be here; that there is a future to plan for.
These dreams could very well shatter tomorrow. I’m not certain any of this will come to pass. But I’m hopeful. And while hope is more fragile than certainty, I think it’s much more valuable, too.
What are you hopeful for?