It is a rare occasion for me to be engrossed in one book alone. Like usual, a stack of books has made its way beside my bed and into the cycle of literature I peel through in my spare time. Among the titles are two set in the same era: One: Hemingway’s 1929 classic, A Farewell to Arms (which I’m reading with my man), and two: a dusty, old hardcover published in 1925 called, The Hope of the World by Alonzo L. Baker.
Both are unique yet bleak in their perspective of life, following the first world war — Hemingway’s semi-autobiography filled with strong visuals and despair from the front line, and the latter reflective in nature, presenting the state of the world, quite in need of “some masterful saving power” after being spun into “a hell of despair”. This second book is a fascinating read, I tell you. I’m struck by the accuracy of Baker’s predictions for the future, based on then-current trends in society. Baker flaunts a perspective that airs on the side of fire-alarm-and-fright, but his big idea, while simple, is painstakingly true—and it is this: Despite all of our efforts (oh, and do we try!), we are in desperate need of a Savior.
“Again and again throughout the storm-filled centuries that span the history of our world, has man tried to fashion a new earth, to bring order out of chaos, to inaugurate a golden age. But alas, his efforts, though strenuous and sincere, have been to no avail. Lawlessness—individual, national, international—is still with us. Disease and death are still with us. Hatred, suspicion, and revenge are still with us. Pray tell, has man been able to rid life of its burdens, its sorrows, and its tragedies? No! We need a rescue!”
Written more than 85 years ago, the message is the same today as it was then. We need a savior. And there is nothing we humans can do, by our own hands or through our own effort, to save ourselves. Like Baker says, we need rescue. We cannot do it alone.
I’m sure you’re aware that life is full of disappointment and pain—even when you’re devoted to Christ! But I think the hope comes from knowing that this world is temporary. It is not our home. For how much I understand this to be true, I am ashamed by how frequently I have to remind myself that. I get stuck worrying about highly ridiculous things or fearing outcomes that I cannot control. When I finally surrender my stuff to the Lord and trust Him in the midst of uncertainty, I put my hope where it belongs. In Him.
And that’s the thing. When we put Christ first, above task and agenda, and well beyond human effort, our perspectives change. Instead of dwelling on the misfortunes of the moment, we can trust God and know that one day, all will be right. That one day, perhaps even very soon, we will leave this world. And that one day, we will have the privilege of sitting beside the Lord on his throne, where he will look lovingly upon us and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
And for the rest of eternity, we’ll have a prize worth every battle here on earth. Worth every tear. Worth every heartache. Worth every trial.
It is our perspective that makes the difference here. It is our perspective—shifted away from this world and back to Christ—that gives us life and peace. Even in the midst of suffering… and especially in the midst of suffering!
This concept is repeated over and over in the Bible. But it currently reminds me of the book of Philippians, where the Apostle Paul speaks to the people of Philippi, encouraging them to put their confidence in Christ, not in the world. He encourages the Philippians to press on, knowing full well that it is not easy to do so in the face of challenge. Allow me to encourage you in the same way, friends. Press on, I say. Press on! And if you don’t know the Lord personally, I want you to hear this: The hope of this world is not in things. It’s not in stuff or status, money or power. The hope of this world is in Christ, alone. He is our Savior, our Redeemer. And without him, there is no hope in this world. I wish I could sugar-coat it, but that is reality.
In Phil. 4, Paul concludes: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God in the midst of trial, suffering, and loss… can you imagine? Again, it’s our perspective that sets us up for success. When you consider what victory has already been won at the cross, and the eternal victory we can claim as we journey with Christ on Calvary Road, it helps us to endure the race and persevere. Our help, our rescue, our Savior is near. He is within us. Claim it, own it. Live it.
My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. Psalm 7:10