Friday, February 8, 2013

Defiant Hope

The Sunday after the shootings in Connecticut this past December, I was in my dad’s church in Michigan.  His pastor talked about the tragedy and our response as Christians.  He used the phrase, “defiant hope”.  Hope which stands in the face of disaster and says, I will still believe.  That phrase continues to resonate with me. 
Defiant: marked by resistance or bold opposition, as to authority; challenging
Hope:  desire for something and the confidence that it will be fulfilled; trust, belief
Being defiant may seem out of character for a Christ-follower.  After all, we are called to love.  But, as I reflect on the life of Jesus, He was defiant.  His life was marked by resistance to Satan and his temptations. 
Jesus boldly opposed the brokenness of the world, breaking in the Kingdom of God through casting out demons, healing diseased bodies, snatching people out of the clutches of death.  He stood against the authority of this world.  He challenged those who thought they had it all figured out. 
We say we hope in God, and that is good.  But, we also need to be defiant.  So often, I say “my hope is in the Lord” but it’s a weak statement, born more out of desperation than out of defiance.  When the world feels out of control, I want to curl up in a little ball, protecting myself from the pain of it all.

Defiant hope means we stand, even as the earth crumbles beneath us.  It means we refuse to be silenced in the face of injustice.  It means we dress each morning for battle.  Ephesians 6 tells us that we battle, not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and authorities of the spiritual forces of evil. 
We are not defiant just to be contrary.  Our defiance is centered in our hope.  Our hope, our desire to see God’s Kingdom come.  Our confidence that in Christ’s redeeming work, all that He has promised will be fulfilled.  Without hope grounded firmly in that Hope, defiance is just a lot of noise.  Little kids banging plastic swords. 

Yesterday I received an email from a dear friend who has been blindsided by devastating news.  Many other loved ones are struggling with loss.  The little bit of world news I get down here is bad, bad, bad. 
It’s easy to want to lie down and not get back up.  To just turn away from it all.  And this is when we need each other.  We need to point each other to the cross, and to our Savior’s cry, “It is finished!” 
What better example of defiant hope do we have?  Beaten, tortured, spit on, mocked, rejected, stretched out, gasping for breath, Jesus broke the bonds of the ‘authority’ of death.  Dying, He trusted that His Father would fulfill His purpose.  When all seemed lost and defeat assured, victory!   
Defiant hope does not mean that the pain is not real.  It does not mean that we can always see the way.  It isn’t a magic trick that fools us into thinking bad is good. 
Defiant hope does mean that we will boldly stand in opposition to the spirit of fear telling us all is lost.  It means we will challenge the lies of Satan, who says this pain and brokenness is all there is. 
It means we live in anticipation and expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises.  In confidence that He is at work, and that in Him, all things… ALL things, will work for our good and His glory.
Today, I need to show the world hope. Defiant hope. Hope that proclaims God’s goodness in the midst of the bad. That claims peace in the midst of conflict. That says Yes in the midst of the deafening shouts of No. 
Hope that may do no more than crawl, but holds fast to the promise that one day we will dance.   I need to raise my voice, crying out for those who can barely breathe through the excruciating pain of their brokenness.   
Defiant hope.  Let’s live it.  For ourselves, for each other, for our world.  For the One who conquered death and makes hope, defiant hope, possible.

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