The last few weeks would give anyone reason to lose hope. Regardless of where you live, tragedy, intense disagreements and increasing levels of distrust have shadowed the lives of countless people.
In the U.S., the debt crisis has revealed intense disagreements between our elected officials as various plans were debated in the midst of name-calling and political gamesmanship. Closer to home, the Minnesota government shutdown for several weeks, as the Republican-controlled legislature and Democrat governor disagreed over the best way to close the state's huge budget gap.
Several thousand miles away—in a place where many Minnesotans have close ties—Norway suffered through its worst domestic terrorism act since World War II. Dozens were killed in two attacks, many of them teenagers and young adults.
In East Africa, an area not immune to disaster, millions of people are in need of immediate food assistance. Some estimates say 30 percent of the people in the Horn of Africa are so malnourished, they need special feeding to alleviate their condition.
It's easy to read these reports and watch them unfold on television and become discouraged. Conflict, disaster and misfortune follow us daily, even though we live in a world that has done its best to minimize the impact and effects of these problems.
In addition to these regional and even global tragedies, nearly every person knows of someone—if not him or herself personally—who is struggling through cancer, the death of a loved one or the seeming hopelessness of job loss, betrayal or loneliness.
It's easy to get lost in the seeming hopelessness of a broken world, a world that at times seems to be driving out of control toward destruction. Violence, death, starvation, anger, conflict … these are inherent conditions in our less-than-perfect world.
Even though it's difficult to see sometimes, there is much hope we can embrace, especially for believers.
Not too many months back, I read that a local church saw hundreds of people come to Christ during special services held over a weekend. These new believers will not be spared the brokenness of our world, but their eternal hope is now secured. They also immediately become God's ambassadors to a world that desperately needs the hope they now possess. Not only the spiritual hope but also the hope they can deliver with their hands and feet.
Some time ago, I listened to a story of a woman who was mired in human trafficking. Her days were not her own. She marched to the beat of someone who controlled her steps, not possessing any kind of freedom or the ability to make her own decisions.
She is now free—both physically and spiritually. Her freedom was paved by a local organization that does the messy and oftentimes unseen work of helping women break the bonds of modern-day slavery. She, too, is still a resident of this fallen world and must live with the memories, which often wake her at night, of her past. Nevertheless, she is now "owned" by the Savior of the universe, her steps ordered by His grace and mercy.
Finally, as you can read in this issue, Alan Law has spent most of his life devoted to helping inner-city youth and adults find hope—through much-needed food, through participation in fun activities and the companionship and help only a trusted friend can provide.He sacrifices his own desires and comforts to help others through difficult and trying times. His service has given hope to thousands of people through more than 40 years of commitment.
Scott Noble is the editor for the Christian Examiner's Minnesota and Washington regions.
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Published, August 2011