Maybe, like me, your sense of hope is running thin as we begin this eighth month of the pandemic. You are not alone. Optimism and hope may well be the most sought after, invaluable, and yet intangible life quality people are seeking today. We are all longing for hope—the belief that the future will be better and brighter than today!
We were entirely unprepared for the impact COVID-19 would have on our everyday lives. Most of us know very little about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how it ravaged American life and killed 675,000 Americans. Some of what happened at that time would seem familiar today, including people wearing masks and socially distancing!
We remember more modern-day plagues like Ebola, AIDS, Legionnaires’ disease, polio, measles, mumps, and many others. Today, thank God, we have vaccines and treatments for most of these scourges.
Few of us remember World War II. However, many of us remember and maybe even served in more recent wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, in which we lost a combined total of more than 100,000 beloved American heroes.
I remember the Cold War tensions, the Cuban missile crisis, and the atomic threat that drove school children to hide under their desks periodically (as if this would provide safety from a nuclear attack)!
We endured 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and massive storms in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas that wreaked terrible devastation and death upon people we love and care about, not to mention costing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. We can now add the devastating West Coast wildfires to this list.
In some ways, COVID-19 is a crisis unlike any other as we face a deadly enemy we cannot see. Now, it seems that this dreaded disease will impact almost every area of our country, and, at the moment, we are hovering around 200,000 deaths. If we add the economic struggles and social unrest we are experiencing, who could blame someone tempted by hopelessness? How do we cope and find hope during these dark and difficult days? Ignoring what we are facing today is not going to work.
I especially appreciate those around me who are more upbeat and hopeful! May their tribe increase! I am grateful for every pair of smiling eyes peering above a mask, trying to help me look toward the brighter side and face the future in hope. I pray you have a few family and friends who bring you this kind of joy and inspiration, but even these wonderful people cannot always be by our side. So, how can we find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation? Is it possible? I believe it is!
Finding Unwavering Hope During a Pandemic
Hope comes from connecting with someone or something that is above and beyond the shifting circumstances of our day. We need to fix our hope on what is unchanging and eternal if we are going to find security and peace today. I believe we can find the hope we long for so desperately in a personal relationship with the God who made and loves us.
A God Who Keeps His Promises?
I find this hope in the story of the Bible. The Bible teaches us that God created a perfect world, but then something went wrong. Though He placed our first parents in an exquisite garden, they veered off the path He wanted them to follow. We followed suit, and every generation since then has suffered the results of these bad decisions. But, according to the Bible, God will reclaim and recreate the world He made.
God has not abandoned us and will one day heal our broken world.
In Judaism, this idea is called “tikkun olam,” the healing of the world, and it is vital to the Jewish view of life, as men and women may partner with God in the healing of the world. Jewish tradition understands that something is fundamentally wrong!
The Hope of Israel Fulfilled
How do we know what is written in the Bible is true?
So often we need something we can see to help us believe. I did! Let me tell you what convinced me. Briefly, here are three reasons.
He has kept His promises to Israel and the Jewish people. Despite the devastation of the Holocaust, the Jewish people—after multiple millennia and against incredible odds—have returned to the land of promise. This was predicted by the Jewish prophets, like the well-known Ezekiel who wrote thousands of years ago, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24).
If God can orchestrate Israel’s regathering and return to the land, He can be trusted to fulfill His other promises in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and New Covenant Scriptures. This is undeniable. If the Bible was correct in predicting the unlikely restoration of Israel, then what else in the Bible is true?
The Hope of Messiah Fulfilled
I also believe God demonstrated His trustworthiness by sending the Messiah. His name is Yeshua, or Jesus in English, and there are hundreds of prophecies detailing His identity and mission penned by Israel’s prophets over multiple centuries. If what the Bible promised about His first coming has come to pass, then what is predicted about His second coming should be true as well.
The prophets of old prophesied His place of birth (Bethlehem) (Micah 5:2), His death for our sins (Isaiah 53:1–12; Psalm 22), His resurrection from the grave (Psalm 16), and so much more! He will return as judge and king to: restore our planet; remove sin, death, and disease; and, according to the Bible, He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Isaiah promised, “He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8, also Revelation 21:4).
This is a foundation for hope that will never disappoint.
Finally, without being unrealistic about the level of tragedy we have experienced, I am convinced that God is trustworthy. When I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, He filled my heart with hope. I cannot easily explain it or prove it logically. When you have a personal relationship with God and believe the promises in the Bible, hope invades your soul and enables you to face the future with confidence.
You will be able to read about the experience of others in this newsletter who had similar experiences to mine.
So, how should we respond to the hope God offers to humanity? We could just give up or become cynical about life in general. We could also choose to put our hope in our fellow human beings working hard to find a vaccine and a cure for COVID-19. Or, we could trust in the God who created us! Maybe a combination of the last two?
I can tell you that, even if we find a cure, we will still experience ongoing tragedies and challenges in this life and that only our relationship with our loving and immovable Creator will shelter us against the storms of life.
One More Thought
It is a mystery as to why God allows His beloved creation to endure difficult times: the loss of loved ones, jobs, educational opportunities, the separation from friends and family, and more that you and I have faced recently. It might be tempting at times to question if God is even good, whether or not you are a person of faith.
Right now, it might be a difficult season for some to keep the faith! It is understandable—times are tough! Maybe you would like to know and trust God but have a hard time believing what the Bible says about His unchanging character.
I wish I could give you an easy answer. I believe God is good by nature. He is Lord of all creation and mysteriously uses life’s most profound disappointments to shape us and make us strong.
I encourage you to hope in God! Even though the road may be dark, He is the Guide we need who lights our path and leads us through the valley of the shadow of death to green pastures.
You might have an unshakable faith in God, secured by the Messiah Jesus, or perhaps you are seeking hope that has been elusive so far. I wish you blessings on the journey, whatever your starting point might be, and thanks again for taking your precious time to read.
I hope you will enjoy the rest of the newsletter!
 Nina Strochlic, “U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Now Surpass Fatalities in the Vietnam War,” National Geographic, April 28, 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/04/coronavirus-death-toll-vietnam-war-cvd/#close.