I remember my grandparents complaining about the speed of life 60+ years ago. Fans of the movie The Shawshank Redemption will recall Brooks Hatlen being shocked about how fast he found life to be outside prison. After his parole, he wrote to friends still incarcerated inside Shawshank, “The world went and got itself in a big **** hurry.”
Life continues to change at a pace unseen in US History. If anything, the velocity of the pace of progress increases from one generation to the next. The pace and magnitude of change generates waves of emotions. For some, those emotions are fear, doubt, discouragement, and hopelessness. To those whose outlook is bleak our message is this, “We understand. Encouragement and hope are on the delivery truck, and they are addressed to you.”
The good news is greater than the voices predicting economic extinction. During the past year, many in the restaurant and entertainment businesses have lost jobs and even their life savings. The shutdowns experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic have been financially devastating. Others fear the economic future because of the financial actions of the government and the Federal Reserve. These actions have flooded the financial markets with multiple trillions of dollars. The M2 money supply in the US exploded by 26% from February 2020 to February 2021. That growth will only increase due to the passage of additional “stimulus” measures. It is not difficult to read or hear warnings of a stock market bubble, coming inflation explosion, and even financial collapse.
The power of encouragement on the way exceeds the tension created by current cultural chaos. According to insider.com, the term cancel culture “emerged only in the past few years but has become a ubiquitous phrase.” While the terminologies of cultural change are new, the power wielded is formidable. Individuals are left to debate the meaning and application of terms that were once well defined, like gender and sex. People are told they must bear personal guilt for the actions or beliefs of relatives who died long before the birth of those living today. Calls for “conversations” to be had about cultural issues sometimes include warnings that particular people must be silent and not participate in said conversation. The anxieties created by cultural clashes can be intense.
The strength of hope addressed to you overcomes the emptiness of a shattered spirit. A hopeless, shattered spirit is a greater burden on life than the pressure of any financial, cultural, or political situation. David, the great King of Israel and a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22), endured a time when his spirit was shattered. David had allowed sexual passion and temptation to get the best of him when he saw Bathsheba bathing on her roof. The abuse of the power of his throne allowed him to take another man’s wife and then set up her husband’s death to cover his sin.
When Nathan confronted David to let him know that sin cannot be hidden from God, David’s spirit was rightfully crushed (Psalm 51). We all have moments in life when we can repeat the words David wrote, “I know my failures, and my sin never leaves my mind!” We need those moments. We need to be honest with ourselves about our failures.
On the other hand, God knows a broken, crushed, shattered, and unhealed spirit leads people further into sin and defeat. God knows that we cannot become the people he created us to be unless our spirit is broken, but a broken, unregenerated spirit produces anger, resentment, and ultimately a life consumed by hatred.
Therefore, God has sent hope and encouragement to our door today. Today, our post centers upon the only hope and encouragement that can overcome the power of confusion, doubt, and hopelessness that crushes life. This hope is found solely in the resurrection of Jesus! Mankind has searched for centuries for the hope that will lift us onto a higher plane, but the search has left us empty. Relying upon political power has globally resulted in posturing, tumult, and failure. Believing mankind will lift cultures on his own wisdom and merit has also been fruitless. Tribalism and war have proven to be the concluding scene age after age. Mankind has simply been incapable of escaping the universal curse of selfishness, greed, and pride.
However, the curse of sin on mankind was broken when Jesus of Nazareth walked out of the tomb before sunrise on Resurrection Day! Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve was, “You surely will not die when you follow your own desires rather than what God said.” Jesus paid the ultimate price for mankind’s sin on the cross, and he broke the last vestige of Satan’s power as he defeated death. The only question which remains is simple. Will we accept the price Jesus paid for our sin as our own, and will we receive the gift of God that is the resurrection?
The question may be simple enough, but the execution of our answer is not. Saying yes to God’s gift requires us to accept the truth that we cannot overcome life’s challenges on our own. We cannot conquer all of the threats, defeat all the fears, reduce all of the tensions, and cure all our emptiness! Admitting our inability and accepting God’s sufficiency is all that stands between us and the delivery of God’s encouragement and hope. What will our answer be?