33:17 ŌA horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great
strength, it cannot save.Ķ
Aside from the first
week of Advent, IÕve noticed that we talk very little about hope. Faith and love win hands down for topics
both in church and in other religious circles. But hope is beginning to have a comeback. Whatever you think about him as a
candidate, thereÕs no denying that Barack Obama has brought hope back into
public discourse, and if youÕve seen the screaming crowds of thousands that
cheer the message, itÕs clear that he has tapped into something deep. I believe it is the awakening of hope.
I think one of the
reasons that hope has taken a back seat is because it is easily misplaced. Hope is the tiny thread that makes it
possible to get out of bed in the morning, and when circumstances are
frightening and cruel, we will reach for any thread that is offered. King David makes that clear in Psalm
33. David was a warrior and he is
talking about the warhorse here.
Many hoped in the strength of technology to thwart the enemy. In that day, it was horses. But the one who once slew a heavily
armed giant with a river stone and a sling knew better. Deliverance from the enemy comes from
another source. Hoping in the best
technology is a hope misplaced.
Another example is
gambling. Here in Massachusetts
weÕre in the midst of a battle over whether to have casinos in the state. As the battle rages on, no one seems to
recognize that much of the gambling urge is a grasping for hope. I know in my own life that the only
times I have ever bought lottery tickets are when I have been least able to
afford them. When times were
desperate and I could see no way out of my financial pit, the only thing that
got me through the week was that tiny little ticket of hope. It was literally the only way I could
see any hope of getting on my feet.
Now donÕt get me wrong, I think casinos are a horrible idea and the
social ills they generate are well documented enough that the state casino plan
is budgeting to address them. But
I think we need to recognize that we canÕt just cut someoneÕs cord to a false
hope without replacing it with a real one.
I am feeling hopeful
for our country for the first time in a long time. IÕm encouraged that the election of any candidate currently
in the race—Democrat or Republican—will mean that we will no longer
torture people. No matter who
wins, we will begin to take care of the earth that God entrusted to our care.
That gives me great hope. Is it a
true hope or a false one? Well,
that depends. If I am placing my
hope directly in Obama or any of the candidates, then it is a false hope. As a Christian, my hope should not be
placed in any party or candidate or policy. We can support them, vote for them, and make intelligent
decisions about who is best equipped to bring about change. But the true hope of Christians belongs
David clears up the
bit about horses at the close of the Psalm, and it is the same for our
political process. ŌWe wait in
hope for the Lord; God is our help and our shield. In God our hearts rejoice, for we trust in GodÕs holy
name.Ķ The final verse of the
Psalm is the closing prayer:
unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
New social network! In
my work as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society, IÕve created
a new social network for those who relate to a broader view of biblical texts
than fundamentalism represents.
The design of the page will change when the new MBS website goes live,
but itÕs open now for profiles to be posted and the site can be fully
used. If you want to join us, sign
up and post a profile at http://massbible.ning.com.
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Be sure to check out my
books: Blowing the Lid Off the God-Box and GodÕs Top 10: Blowing the Lid Off
the Commandments. Order now on Amazon.com or check local bookstores.