Hope – the church’s job

Here is one of the most hopeful phrases in the Bible: “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1).

Think about it. Noah was in an ark surrounded by water. He and his family members were trapped in very cramped quarters with an abundance of animals. This had been going on for months. There was no way out.

There were no signs of relief. As far as he could see, there was water. Just water. No mountains, no trees, no break in the desolation. At some point, Noah must have felt alone, overwhelmed, and forgotten. It seemed like a hopeless situation.

But then – “God remembered Noah.” Noah was not, in fact, alone. He had not been, in fact, forgotten. Yes, the circumstances were dire. Yes, the outlook was grim. But Noah could be heartened by realizing that he did not have to face this desperate, gut-wrenching situation by himself.

One of our jobs as the church is to remind God’s people about hope.  This is not about ignoring painful realities or pretending that everything is “just fine.” In fact, it is just the opposite. We are called to recognize the challenging situations where people find themselves. We can identify those times of grief and loss, loneliness and isolation that can cause people to despair. Those are real.

We dare to enter into and share one another’s pain because of that short Scripture verse. We can proclaim what is true. God remembers us. God will not abandon us. In the midst of our struggles and in the middle of our doubt, God remembers us.

The church’s job is to celebrate this Good News and offer hope. When we come together as the people of God – flawed and frail as we may be – we are embodying this message of hope. We promise to walk with one another through those challenging times. We will steady one another as we experience emotional rollercoasters. We may not be strong enough on our own, but we don’t have to be. We can offer to one another God’s love, compassion, and caring.

We can promise to remember one another so that no one has to go on this journey alone.

No church is perfect, but every church is called to share the Good News of God’s enduring hope.

 

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