World

Hope for a New Decade

November 6, 2020 by

By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories. . . The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think . . . I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.

These are the words of the faithful Sam in the face of crisis in the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The natural reply, of course, Frodo gives: “What are we holding on to, Sam?” – “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

I am not sure things are as bad right now as they were for Frodo as he carried the Ring of Power to Mount Doom, but this country is in a crisis, a crisis caused by COVID-19, societal injustice, toxic media, and politics, and it is tearing our society apart. How do we fix all of this? How do we find hope again? What can I do against forces and circumstances that seem too large and out of control?

ATEmbedPhoto courtesy of Atharva Tulsi

It’s hard to believe that we are only eleven months into this new decade. There is always a certain hope in a new year, a new decade, but this time the hope seems to be floundering in the long-term suffering and crisis now facing our country and the world. I’ve lived quite a few decades now, each one seeming to pass faster than the one before. Looking for fresh perspectives on the new decade, as well as rejuvenation for my dwindling hope, I asked a few of my young friends for their thoughts on this new decade and what gives them hope. Here’s one young woman’s response:

Two-thousand-twenty has been the most surprising year I have lived thus far. In the last eight months I have frequently felt myself navigating totally uncharted waters, including new interior waters within my own self. Scary, often pretty hard, but I am learning so much. About faith, about human fragility, about human endurance and capacity to adapt, about a Living God who does not leave us as orphans but is there to catch us when the rug is pulled out from under us.

I get hope from the unknown future. Yes, it is also kind of scary! But above all, the unpredictability of the weeks and months and years that we lean into, excite me because now, more than it ever was before the pandemic, the sky is the limit with what might be asked of us and what doors could open and what old realities could be stood on their heads.

Many good things have been cut short, aborted, or destroyed by the events of this year. But one thing I know from the depths of my faith and my experience: God will take all those broken pieces and damaged bits of life and use them to his glory. He’s doing it right now, but we can’t see it yet. At the moment, we’re pretty much just stuck with pondering the back side of the tapestry, the messy here and now which doesn’t make a lot of sense. But he is weaving something good for each one of us and for the advancement of his kingdom among us, and one day we will look back and be blown away by what he has done with all the suffering and disappointment of the present. So I would not will these days away, or wish for everything to be normal again. I would not settle for anything less than the big projects of God, even if they take time and we can’t yet know the ends he has in mind.

So here, too, we return to the theme of hope. A new day will dawn on this earth. Our hope is found in our love and service to a God who has stepped into our darkness, both individually and as a world, and become one of us. We have a God that understands because Jesus, as God, experienced it all: homelessness, betrayal by friends, hatred by the religious and government powers, arrest, beating, and then execution in one of the most horrendous ways that humankind has invented. Our God understands because He has been there and took it all for us. God has commissioned us to help him build his kingdom here on earth, working actively in anticipation rather than placidly waiting for Jesus to return. This task gives us both the greatest hope and a reason to live. It makes me think of the refrain of a song I like from the Rend Collective:

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray

Whatever it takes, let’s build God’s kingdom here, and let it be our hope for a new decade.

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About the author

Randall Gauger with his wife, Linda

Randall Gauger

Randall Gauger is a bishop of the Bruderhof communities in the United States. He and his wife, Linda, live at the Fox Hill...

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