Have you felt the oppressive weight of hopelessness? It seems that everywhere I turn I hear the message of doom and gloom. Just this morning I heard reports of yet another devastating terror attack — this time in Brussels. For the past several months the political rhetoric has fostered fear and hatred. I myself have been troubled by the uncertainties in my life. It seems that people all over the world are feeling desperate — hopeless.
What kind of hopelessness drives a person to strap a bomb to himself and willingly die while taking out the lives of others? What kind of fear causes people to lash out at complete strangers? What kind of desperation keeps me awake at night?
It’s the kind of fear that has forgotten that God is God. It’s the kind of hopelessness that believes that our future is in our own hands. It’s the kind of desperation that wonders how life would’ve been different if I would’ve made different decisions along the way.
This kind of fear and hopelessness is not new; “there is nothing new under the sun.” The Israelites, standing at the base of Mount Sinai, while Moses was talking to God, started freaking out because he was taking too long. They were literally bearing witness to the presence of God and they forgot about Him! So, turning to their own resources, they fashioned a golden calf, yes, that’s right, a baby cow made out of their jewelry. And, they started to worship the freshly minted calf, saying that it had brought them out of Egypt.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I mean much more ridiculous then strapping a bunch of explosives to one’s body and walking into a crowded subway thinking that that will solve the world’s problems. Much more ridiculous than thinking that my 401k will give me security. Much more ridiculous than imagining that I will be happy as soon as I drop twenty pounds. Way more crazy than staying up all night wondering if I made all the right parenting decisions.
Those Israelites, man, they were crazy.
But no crazier than me. They had merely turned their faces away from the mountain and, that quickly, had forgotten that their salvation was right in front of them. I’ve turned my face, too. Over and over again. I have taken my eyes off of God and looked instead to my own strength, or the strength of those around me, to be my salvation.
What was I thinking? That God was taking too long? Wasn’t I bearing witness to His presence and His power in my life?
Mm-hm. I was. And still, I turned.
Over and over I have found that I am not my own salvation. In fact, when I turn to myself, I unfailingly make my situation even worse than it was to begin with. Just like the Israelites.
You would think that God would get angry. You would think He would say, “That’s it. I am done with you. We’ve been over this. I’m not giving you another chance.” But He doesn’t. He pulls us close; He says, “I’ve got you. It’s gonna be ok. Remember, I’m God.”
Oh, yeah. Guys, He’s God.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.