“What will it be like, when this evil nightmare will someday be over.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his parents, June 1943
When I read that statement today, I knew I had to write and reflect on it. Bonhoeffer’s sentiment resonates with us today in a powerful way. Many of us are beyond ready for the nightmare known as COVID-19 to be over. We are all longing for someday. Our total personalities yearn for the time when much of this pain and heartache will end. The pandemic crisis, racial tensions, and outright rejection of valid authority, and a completely different way of life than we knew this time six months ago have deepened our longings for a future and hopefully better someday.
We should not become fanatical escapists but the grief resulting from the increase and visibility of brokenness in our world is valid. It is within our nature to yearn after a better life and land. That longing has been in the human heart since the fall of humanity into sin in Genesis 3. It is understandable how Christians of decades and centuries past wrote songs about “escaping this ole sinful world.” We should balance life in the present with hopeful expectation that our good and just God will one day make all the wrongs right. Christians believe that God will do this based on His character.
Paul’s expression of the longing for a better someday is articulated in Romans 8: 22-25.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.Romans 8:22-25, ESV
Those who deny any claim to religious belief look for hope but in all the wrong places. Many people are hoping life will “get back to normal” but do not really have ontological reasons for hope. That is, people may say that hope for this or that but have no objective reality on which to base hope. If you are reading this post and you are struggling to find hope, I hope you will at least consider the plausibility of hope in Jesus. Contact me if you have questions about Christianity and hope here.
The someday we are all longing for will find its telos in the return of Jesus and establishment of the new heavens and earth. (Revelation 21:1-4) Christian hope is more than a feeling. It is a reality grounded in the promise of the Bible that through the Messiah, all things are made new. There is a better someday for the people of God.
You may not be imprisoned like Bonhoeffer was, yet your own difficulties cry out with the same sentiment Pastor Bonhoeffer expressed. You are longing for the evil nightmare (whatever that may be for you) to end. It may not end today, tomorrow, or next week, but a better someday is coming. Here are some suggestions while you wait for that day:
- Reflect on what you believe about hope. Honestly think about what you believe at the deepest level. Consider whether or not it answers the “inescapable questions of life”
- Immerse yourself in meaningful Christian community. That in itself provides remarkable hope.
- Face negative emotions and people with courage. Do not ignore the grief you feel over life in a broken world. Write about your grief in a journal. Pray about it. Call a friend to process it. Sign up for counseling if you need it. Face the negative emotions but do not allow them to drown you.
- Read the Psalms. Israel’s prayer and worship is depicted throughout the Psalms. At times the psalmists expressed deep hope in God, while at other times they described their heartfelt desire for God to do something about their situations.
- Look for God’s presence and beauty in the ordinary. While you long for your someday, do not ignore the beauty and blessings which surround you.