The Music of Hope
Without the hope of Christ, doing life is like wooing a tune from a broken guitar! Hope brings out beautiful music amidst the brokenness we see all around.
Now, those who know me well know that I am not a total disaster when it comes to singing. I can still hold a note and make some joyful noise to the Lord! That being said, it is true that I was not born in the deeper end of the gene-pool of all things musical. Nonetheless, as I take the last flight of stairs into the fourth floor, I know I have been on the dance floor long enough to discover that life is indeed a kind of music. Thankfully, not the kind of music we faced when our primary school teachers made us “kiss the ground” and administered six of the best on our scrawny posteriors! That’s a story for another day. Still, living life requires mastery of the notes on whatever instrument Providence has dealt you.
One of the most critical notes on we must learn to pluck from our life’s experiences is called hope. We must embrace the hope that in Christ, life is beautiful and worth living, even under the tyranny of Miss Rona from Wuhan!
Some of us have lives that look like grand pianos, with all their pomp and glory. Some have not-so-grand ones, like a one-stringed Wandindi suffering from self-esteem. Still others, nothing more than that multipurpose, ten-stringed instrument called hands! More often than not, these are hands calloused by toils of life; worse, still, if jiggers from Kiandutu have chewed some of those strings! Do you now see why some nursery rhymes like “If you are happy and you know clap your hands” might be considered crimes against humanity? Whatever the resources at your disposal, we must contend with a curious paradox: We are an odd mixture of iron and clay, brokenness and beauty, glory and shame. Thus, living life is pretty much like trying to conjure up some coherent music from a broken guitar.
Sometimes we get our act together, revealing the glory of God. Sometimes (lots of times actually), we descend into the depths of mediocrity and disgrace, revealing the depravity that lurks within!
We see it everywhere. Marriages and families that start like Cinderella and end up like bloody Child’s Play. Childhood innocence that is ripped away through rape and pornography. Promising political programs and causes of reform that turn into ugly vehicles for self-aggrandizement. Anointed gospel ministers who degenerate into gospel mercenaries. These are but a few glimpses of the riddle of our human condition since Mr. & Mrs. Adam ate the fruit! Shakespeare tried to echo this enigma in his play, Macbeth. Even if the only book you read is Face-book, you probably have heard it: “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” That was Macbeth, the tragic main character of the play. The death of his wife had so rattled him that he concluded life was nothing more than a meaningless grind. This view of life is called nihilism, popularized by the German philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche in his arguments for morality without the necessity of God. The underlying sense of meaningless about life was a reality the pessimistic Philosopher of Ecclesiastes had struggled with–before he saw the light.
But is this all that life is cracked up to be?
No doubt, the Bible itself is unflattering about the brokenness of life after Eden. Since our first parents friendzoned God and got kicked out the Garden (Gen. 3:22-24), kwa ground, things changed forever! We now live as rugged tent-dwellers and pilgrims traversing a dreary wilderness, looking for home in a city “with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). Without the intervening, redeeming hand of the Sovereign God, who orders all things in His wise counsel (Eph. 1:11), there is no telling how meaningless and bitter our human experience could be in our fragmented reality. COVID-19 starkly reminds us of this inescapable fact.
Consider Jacob and the discordant music of his life. Asked by Pharaoh how long he had lived, the old guy cut to the chase: “My pilgrimage has lasted 130 years…My years have been few and hard, and they have not matched the years of the lives of my fathers” (Gen. 47:9, NIV). A rich man of no small means, still, Jacob saw the outcomes of his life as worse off than his predecessors. Was it just customary modesty or brutal honesty about himself? Take your pick. Whatever the case, his was really a key-hole view of a man wracked by life’s ups and downs, and a questionable CV. We know that despite his past mistakes and shortcomings, Jacob came to play a critical role in the unfolding drama of God’s redemption, as the patriarch of Israel. Like the heroes of the Bible, he died in faith (Heb. 11:13, 21).
And this is the deal, really: God redeems broken things–and people!
What the saints of old like Jacob knew only partly, now we know a little better, albeit imperfectly. The sovereign God is at work through the broken rhythms of life, making all things work for the good of His people everywhere in the world (Rom. 8:28ff). Ultimately, the present groaning of all creation and humanity, and of the Spirit who groans in compassionate intercession, will one day reverberate in a victory song: “Salvation belongs to our God!” (Rev. 7:10). This is the “perfect” hallelujah that should inspire us to see beyond distressing imperfections, to the new heavens and new earth. Then, no woman will need to cook stones for her starving children; no one will die because of their skin colour, or worry about Coronavirus, or death itself (Rev. 21:1-4). Until then, we must learn to look for hidden beauty in imperfect communities, marriages, jobs–and dance to the music of hope. In so doing, we savour foretastes of glory that will ultimately be ours–in Christ.
Do you share in this hope?