Hope!

[I wrote this article for my church’s publication, The Messenger.]

For the creation was subjected to futility… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

[Romans 8:20-22]

The pain of giving birth can accurately describe both the earth and the people that live on it these days.  Earthquakes, economic decline, volcanoes, hurricanes, wars… the list goes on.  The effects of sin and “bondage to decay” that mar creation are all too evident.  The world is brimming with anxiety and conflict; the ground itself is subject to a never ending cycle of struggle.

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Who can hope?

You may be audacious enough to hope in a president to change an economy, in a war to manage threats against your country, in disaster preparations to protect your family, in an education to open up your futures, in a marriage to cure your loneliness, in your wealth to give you stability, in growth to sustain your church, in a job to legitimize your existence, in retirement to give you rest…

Yet the economy is not immutable, new threats emerge, educations do not always pertain, spouses do not live forever, wealth comes and goes (some of us know that all too well!), and everything proves ephemeral in the end.  All these hopes are partial and temporary.

Is there a hope that has an answer for all of our doubts?

Only God offers humanity an ultimate hope in the midst of our despair.  He promises us a purpose behind the pain.  All of creation might be groaning, but it is groaning in anticipation of an incredible resolution; the vindication of the sons of God.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

[Romans 8:19]

You not only play a difficult role in the history of this havoc-torn creation, you are the culmination of it!  God will reveal to all who his children are; the ones he has gathered out of the entire world and, with this, free his creation from slavery to death.  How fantastic is it to be called the child of God?

Sons and daughters of God, I urge you to continue the struggle while you live!  Trust in God’s plan!  Continue to bring resolution and healing to the earth wherever you can, and put your faith in this daring hope that God has given you.

Allen Marshall O'Brien

Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.

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  • Well, maybe; but I’d say that I have at least a level of crcenon about the environment, and no one has accused me of being a wacko. I just think you overspoke a little bit, that’s all…

  • I was more trying to relate some things from the Bible to my church than trying to invalidate anyone else’s claims to hope. But I can see where that happens. I believe that God is the only hope for us, but that doesn’t mean your concern for the environment isn’t invalid; from my perspective I’d think that is in step with who God is.

    Thanks for interacting with my thoughts, Tomoko 🙂