One of my favorite podcasts has become “Stayed Tuned with Preet,” a podcast hosted by Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney, that addresses issues of justice and fairness. The topics vary pretty widely – from law enforcement, to the psychology of leadership, to the opioid crisis, to gun control, to the #metoo movement. What I appreciate about his podcast is he breaks down a lot of the complicated legal matters in the news into terms I can understand, he shares his passion for justice, and he tries to frame a current specific issue in the broader context of justice in society. Admittedly, there are times when I listen to Preet’s podcast and begin to wonder if there is any hope. But what Preet always does at the end of his podcast is tell a story of hope – sometimes entirely unrelated to the current episode, but always life-giving.
What Preet does is what I try to do in preaching. I am always looking for the problem in the scriptural text assigned for the day (and the related problem in our modern lives), and the hope in the text (and the related hope in our everyday lives). Sometimes finding the hope is harder than others. This Sunday, we get the text from I Samuel where the people finally ask God for a king. That may not sound like an unreasonable request, but you have to remember that God just spent a generation’s lifetime liberating the people from an overlord – from Pharaoh. And despite God’s faithfulness, and the warning God’s prophet gives them about what life will be like under a king (spoiler alert: it’s not good!), the people stubbornly demand a king anyway. In Samuel’s warning, he says, “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” As I have been praying on this text this week, I have been wondering where the hope is.
Last night, I sat in on a conversation on racial reconciliation, and we wondered the same thing too. As we look at the world around us, and see the deep divisions among us (on every issue!), and see the ongoing prejudice among us, many of us found ourselves wondering where the hope is. We spent time talking openly and vulnerably about where our hope is being dashed and the moments that seem irredeemable in life. But after some time, our conversation shifted – from the moments that were irredeemable to the ones that were redemptive. We began to talk about how and where we find hope. And each bit of hope shared brought more hope into the room. Though we all come from different backgrounds, we seemed to conclude the night convinced that God, through the instrument of the Church, was going to be the source of hopeful change in the world.
I am wondering where you are finding hope today. Whatever is going on your life, whatever is dragging you down today, what are the glimmers of hope that are sustaining you? I could preach to you about how God is always our source of “big picture” hope, but I think more often God provides us with little glimmers of hope that leads us on the path to that big picture hope. Those glimmers are our food for the daily walk with Christ that nourish our souls and keep us out of the dark and searching for the light. If you have not found the hope today, keep looking. And if you get to the close of the day and are still not convinced, reach out for support. You are not alone.