... to live for
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43.19
The loss of hope is a terrible predicament. Yet a blanket of despair seems, inexorably, to be enveloping the world. Is it on account of global events, such as the AIDS epidemic, 9/11, climate change, lock-down, war in Ukraine or the technological innovations which appeared as a blessing but with a sinister wake - like online abuse, fake news and domestic surveillance? Whatever has triggered it - and it may be a combination of all of the aforementioned and more - there seems to be a loss of innocence in the air, an absence of hope for the future. Or perhaps one is just getting old?
Of course we are not the first people to feel this way and this is not the first time when the horizons of history have darkened. A similar societal collapse was occurring around the prophet Isaiah 2,700 years ago. Following a period of economic prosperity and military security, both northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah looked vulnerable. Corruption by those in authority had compromised the whole people of God and judgment beckoned - in the form of invasion and deportation.
Yet rather than give in to despair, Isaiah searched the mind of God and, through the darkness, perceived a spark of hope. Though the earlier chapters (1-39) are dominated by sombre warnings of the immediate future, in the later chapters (40-66) Isaiah addresses a future generation who will awaken to better days and the opportunity to return and rebuild. This is exactly what happened. That reality never quite matched the dream is because the realisation of Isaiah's prophecy anticipated its greater consummation in Jesus, who fulfils the hope of the whole world and without restriction.
It began with his first coming. His coming again will complete the process, which is why the apostle Paul urged believers in the Roman province of Galatia: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up", while the author to the Letter of Hebrews adds: "and all the more as you see the Day approaching."