Monday, December 19, 2016

Put your hope in the right place

In an upcoming interview first lady Michelle Obama suggests that America has lost hope now that Donald Trump has been elected President. Her husband ran his campaign on hope and change, and now that he's leaving office his wife believes the hope America felt is gone as well.

She's not the only person to feel this way. People have been screaming the sky is falling ever since the election. College students, who should be approaching adulthood, need to see counselors to address the anxiety they feel with Trump taking office. Some former Facebook friends expressed their anxieties over a Trump presidency about every two hours after the election which is why they are former FB friends. (I just got tired of all the drama.)

The problem with Michelle Obama's claim that America is losing hope, and all the other Chicken Littles out there freaking out over the election, is that it reflects a secular worldview regarding hope. No person is going to fix your life or make you happy. If your hope is in an individual you are going to go through life very disappointed. Did President Obama do some good things in office? Yes, he did. He also did some things that were not so good. History will one day judge his overall effectiveness as President. Guess what? President Trump will also do some good things and some things not so good. If your hope goes up and down based on what the President does your life is going to be very unsettled.

In our Western society today we have the mistaken belief that everyone should be happy all the time. It is a symptom of our entitlement mentality. People want free healthcare. College students want free tuition. Here's a newsflash for some people: Life can be tough sometimes. There is no free lunch. Someone is going to pay for that free healthcare and free tuition. Grown up people understand that they have to provide for their own needs. If your hope is based on the belief that the government or some other entity is going to take care of you then your hope is based on the wrong thing.

Our hope must be focused on the one thing or person that can never change, and that is God. We celebrate Christmas because the birth of Jesus Christ ushered in the one hope that will never fail. Our expectations of God might fail us at times, but He will never fail.

For many elections now I have reminded congregations and others that God does not fly on Air Force One. He's not up for election every four years, and He doesn't make decisions based on the latest polls, how many in Congress He can get to agree with His policies or the make-up of the Supreme Court. He provides us with a solid foundation for our lives that we can rely on regardless of what occurs in our lives, and that is the foundation for a hope that will never fail us.

If you believe that the election of Donald Trump is going to usher in a new era of suffering in America, I just finished reading Timothy Keller's book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. I mentioned it a few days ago and said that it would probably be my favorite book of 2016, and now that I've finished it I have not changed my mind. It is an excellent book that speaks to this whole issue of pain and suffering and the evil that exists in the world. As he points out, a Christian worldview does not deny the existence of evil and suffering, but it also points to the one true source of hope we have when such times come into our lives. If you've not read this book it should be on your 2017 reading list.

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