Real Hope, by Pastor Lloyd Pulley, April 2022

Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – April 2022

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

The present landscape of the world today—amidst the drug epidemic, continued fears over COVID variants, government overreach, "cancel culture," and misinformation on the war in Ukraine—is leading many to become discouraged and depressed. I have heard not a few say, "What's the point?" or "What difference can I make?" Many more sigh and mumble the adage, "The more things change, the more they remain the same!"

And now added to the stress are higher inflation and energy prices. Average monthly expenses have risen to nearly $450 a month more than last year for most families. Many of our once-trusted institutions across the nation, which in the past gave us realistic assessments and responses, are now more irrelevant. Because of all of these things, many have developed more profound hopelessness than ever before. It was convenient to believe the "approved version of the truth" we were fed, but something seemed off. Many are awakening to consider the vast changes within our nation in such a short time may be the result and end of a "long march through the institutions" in a culture war. As a battered woman becomes trapped in an abusive relationship, because the pain of the familiar is a lot more comfortable than the unknown, many have just sighed and accepted the "new reality" with little hope of change.

Hope often seems tethered to our circumstances—but is there a way to have an abiding hope that doesn't vanish in times of difficulty? Is there a way to have a sense of purpose that enables us to go forward? The Bible describes hope as "an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast," and to a Christian familiar with the Bible, there is a deeper meaning behind all that is happening in the world around us.

We recently completed a series in our church entitled "Looking Up," focused on what the Bible says about the times many are experiencing. Corrie ten Boom, well known for her suffering in the concentration camps of the Nazis and for helping the Jewish people, said something insightful: "If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God, you'll be at rest." The conclusion we reach then is that looking to our Creator is where real hope is found!

Let's consider an example. The fear of bringing up a child in a less-than-ideal situation has led millions to make a decision that will be deeply regretted—abortion. If we could see from a higher perspective, perhaps the answer to our problems is bound up in that little child's life. In the Bible, Moses' parents were pressured to sacrifice his life to Pharaoh's decree—but instead they resisted, believing there was a greater purpose for their baby. They risked their lives to rescue him from certain death, and though it would be eighty years later, Israel's cries to God for deliverance from Egypt were answered by that baby when he grew up and led them to the promised land!

Last week I received a picture of one of the hundreds of babies rescued by Bridge Women's Center outside of an abortion clinic. The mom who sent the picture had been scheduled to have an abortion that day, but instead entered our Mobile Pregnancy Center. She saw an ultrasound of the baby in her womb and chose life! Along with the picture of her beautiful baby, she thanked us profusely for being there in her moment of hopelessness. Who can tell what great purpose lies in store for that one child?

Passages in the Bible about the moral conditions in the end times speak of pervading selfishness (1 Timothy 4, 2 Timothy 3, Matthew 24). But those who believe in God have put their hope in Him during the darkest trials. Because He lives, we have hope for the future no matter what is happening today!

Please take another look at Jesus! A recent book and now video series, "Person of Interest" by Forensic Detective J. Warner Wallace, will help you see that Jesus is the only real "person of interest" to answer the cause for an explosive change for good in the world. Looking to Jesus gives us hope! He gives us the strength to endure despite our circumstances because He is above them and beyond them!

And once we look to Him for our salvation, we realize Jesus settled the debt that has kept us in fear, needing to save ourselves. We can be bold now to abandon our self-interests and look to the interests of others! We can rescue that baby from abortion. We can encourage that neighbor under the weight of his drug addiction. We can offer support to the hurting woman caught in the cycle of abuse. We have a Living Hope to give them!

The death of Jesus can give you confidence and hope even beyond the grave when you believe that His sacrifice paid for your debt of sin. Hoping this Easter season you open your Bible and take another look at Jesus!