I am borrowing heavily from the 50 Days of Hope devotional gifted to me by Jamie and Connie Cates. The day 37 devotional centers on the idea of “Money-Back Guarantees.” In it, author Lynn Eib shares of the many cancer patients she (a long-time cancer survivor) has encountered as a cancer support group leader. “So what do you attribute your survival,” she is regularly asked. Her answer doesn’t offer the “guarantee” many people are looking for.
As human beings, we want desperately to have things around us that are rock-solid, unchangeable, predictable, and sure-fire—guaranteed. The problem is, life in a fallen world doesn’t work that way… As a pastor, I often receive criticism concerning “how the church has changed,” as if I (or any other human) had the power to make and keep it 1990 (or 1960) again and forever. Change is non-negotiable if the Holy Spirit is truly in charge. Why? Because change is what we most desperately need as fallen humans, and change is the only hope for a fallen world to one day be restored to perfection.
Lynn Eib attributes her survival from advanced colon cancer to the grace of God. But what she has found repeatedly is that what many people want is a guarantee—in other words, something they can do and be in charge of—like a vitamin regiment, a “secret” diet plan that will somehow bust up the cancer, alternate therapies, or some other sure-fire way to “take charge” and defeat this thing. People want guaranteed survival… people want guaranteed healing… people want a guaranteed process to get from sickness to health, from poverty to wealth, from hopelessness to the easy life. Trouble is, there are no guarantees in this life on this earth…
While many churches will do anything to resist God in order to stay the same, the real Church is being transformed in preparation for the greatest awakening in the history of…history! While many individuals desperately try to hang on to “unchangeable” institutions, this fallen world has a way of breaking our grip—even as institutions fall away, pulled down by the same sin-nature that brings down all of creation. The devastating fires around Gatlinburg are a painful reminder that we humans really aren’t able to control our environment—much less have a guarantee in any other area in life…
Want a guarantee? Here it is. You WILL experience difficulties, the pain of death, brokenness, and moments of hopelessness. It is our human condition. It is the present world’s condition.
Want real hope? Here it is. These “momentary afflictions” do not destroy true believers in Christ Jesus, they refine and define us. What we have in Jesus is PEACE in the midst of the junk, pain, fear, and doubt. What we have in Jesus is a sure guarantee that this world’s fallen-ness does not own us forever. What we have in Jesus is the sure hope that hopelessness will not prevail forever; the sure faith that faithlessness will not define the world forever; the sure love that loveless-ness will not subvert humanity forever… Jesus said it beautifully (of course!) in John 16:33:
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.
The world has been conquered by Jesus—yet the fallen-ness of the world continues to beat down on us. So hang on to our real hope—that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus! In Him, we will prevail. In Him, we will conquer. In Him, we have victory that no diagnosis, no catastrophe, no disaster, no war or disease or famine or anything—can take away from us! In Him we have real hope—that is completely beyond our control, and completely above this fallen world. Remember, Christ in us, the Hope of Glory…!