You probably have a Bible app on your phone. I do. Although it doesn’t take the place of my study Bible, there are times when it’s really handy. I know, there are those who don’t consider it a “real” Bible because it isn’t ink on paper, but by that measure, we’d have to admit there was no “real” Bible till the invention – in China – of paper about 100 years before the time of Christ. So much for the book of Isaiah.
Back to YouVersion (my choice among Bible apps). I recently learned there is a website that records not only how many times someone accesses a digital Bible, but also which topics are sought most frequently. Far and away, the topic most often explored on an electronic Bible is the subject of hope. Hope.
Not much of a surprise, really. Fragile economic climate, family stresses, the moral fabric of our culture shifting under us like tectonic plates gone berserk, complex diseases for which even Big Pharma can’t find a pill. It’s enough to keep you awake nights. In fact, last year Americans spent nearly $45 billion on sleep aids.
That’s useful information for those of us who deal in sowing and cultivating hope. Hopelessness is nurtured by uncertainty about the future. Hopelessness is intensified by finding yourself in a situation over which you have no control. Hopelessness festers in a setting where your own bad choices have created no easy outcomes. Seems to me there is a lot of that going around right now.
And that’s why we need to make sure we are purveyors of hope whenever our life touches another. And it’s why when folks come to worship we must make sure they go away marinated in hope. Remember, hope isn’t generally nurtured when we sit and listen to a 30 minute lecture on how vile we are. But when we discover that there is Someone in charge, that He can totally rescue us from our wretched record, that the end-game is in His hands, the world begins to look a different color. Worship is that event when we take our eyes off ourselves and put them on Him. Aha, no wonder Scripture says we are saved by hope.
After church last week I saw a lady I’d guess to be in her late 30’s (though I’m not very good at guessing) walking across the parking lot. I couldn’t help but notice she was crying. Sobbing, really. At the far corner of the lot she sat down under a tree and I could hear her sobs from where I was standing. I approached and asked how I could help. She didn’t want to talk so I called Ruthie to help me. Out poured this whole sordid story… She was a hopeless addict (her words), had three children – the first born when she was 17. All three were living with different families. She had scratches on her neck, her boyfriend had just thrown her out, burned all her clothes and smashed her phone.
She refused everything we tried to give her. She didn’t want food…a place to sleep…or anything else we had to offer. Except hope. We told her how much God loved her. We assured her He had a wonderful plan for her life. That there was hope. We prayed; she smiled…she smiled. Hope does that, you know. That’s why we go looking for hopeless.