It’s easy to lose hope. Just look around and the reality of our world comes crashing down on us. The word that I have been pondering lately is this:
That’s how so much of what is happening feels. Relentless. As in there is no rest. It is constant. It takes no breaks. It is comes from multiple directions at once. And demands complete surrender or extinction. Relentless.
Relentless is the most appropriate word I can think of right now. Evil is relentless. It doesn’t know what rest is. Evil demands production and tells us the lie that our value and worth is tied up in what we produce. “Make more bricks.” And when we do, evil doesn’t care – it’s never enough. Evil can never be satisfied. It focuses on what we lack, not who we are.
Relentless as in it’s all or nothing. Relentless as in only the strong survive and evil believes it is the strongest. Relentless as in the ends justify the means.
Resisting evil is tiring because it is relentless. It doesn’t stop.
So what are we to do? I think we face evil and name it for what it is and then do something else. I believe we are called to something else. Not to fight evil – not in a normal way anyway. Fighting evil directly usually means fighting on evil’s terms and turf. That’s not what we are called to. Fighting evil may very well make us the very thing we despise.
Instead, I look to Jesus for guidance. Jesus called the thing what it was. He identified evil and called it out. And then did something unique – changed direction. And in doing so, he showed how illegitimate it really was. He changed the field of battle, so to speak. And when that happens, evil didn’t have the upper hand. Jesus told evil that it was not legitimate – that nothing it stands for would be given the time of day.
And then he invited people into a new way of living. He invited people to participate in the unfolding of the kingdom of God. This is what hope is all about.
Jesus offered hope. Hope that there would be rest. Hope that evil would not have the final say. Hope that the means are as important as the ends. Hope that strength looks different than bullying. Hope that the least of these would find favor. Hope that there was an alternative to what the world offered – a much better alternative.
Yesterday I went over to the middle school to see my daughter’s class research presentation. All the students had created these wonderful tri-fold boards on a variety of subjects. Some of the many topics included Immigration, Child Abuse, Divorce, LGBTQ+ rights, Suicide, Child PTSD, Education, many forms of injustice.
These are middle school children who were tackling difficult topics – researching them, highlighting the complexities, showing what surveys of people thought about the topic, and even offering some solutions when they could think of them.
In each case though, what I saw was hope. In each case, what I heard was this generation seeing these challenges in new ways – not getting stuck on old arguments that are currently taking place. Rather, they had hope – hope that the future would be better than the present. Hope that the future would be more adaptive, expansive, welcoming. They didn’t have all the answers. But they did have hope.
Sometimes the unfolding of the kingdom of God shows up in places we least expect it to. For me, the kingdom showed itself in middle school research projects in a public school. I was surrounded by hope. I was surrounded by life. The kingdom unfolds in our midst.