Saturday, May 6, 2023

Not our home

Carl Trueman:
Last year, in a conversation with my friend Rod Dreher, a journalist and Orthodox Christian, I commented on the bleak outlook of much of his writing and alluded to him as pessimistic. He laughingly rejected the adjective. “I am neither pessimistic nor optimistic,” he said, “but I am hopeful.” And hope, of course, is not optimism. Pollyanna was an optimist, as was Mr. Micawber. Optimism is the belief that everything will be fine if everyone just sits tight and waits.

Christian hope, however, is realistic. It understands that this world is a vale of tears, that things here are not as they should be, and that, in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, all life death does end. This world is not the Christian’s home, and so we shouldn’t expect it to provide us with home comforts. That is not to say we shouldn’t be grateful for the good things we do have here and now. I thank God that I still live in a country with greater freedoms than, say, China. I thank God that I live in a time and a place where I have access to good healthcare, that I have a job I enjoy, and that I have a loving family. I pray that such things will continue for me and also be the same for others.

But I’m also aware that the world is fallen, that the gospel doesn’t promise me the life of ease and comfort I currently have, and that my calling (and the calling of all Christians) is to live faithfully in the time and place I’ve been set. When things in this world go awry, or when I’m faced with changes that bring suffering to me or to my loved ones or to society at large, I must not despair, I must work to the best of my ability to right such wrongs, and I must also remember that the real meaning of my life (and others’ lives) is not found in the here and now but in the hereafter. Suffering here and now may at times be terrible, even unbearable, but it’s never meaningless. No, it finds its meaning in the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Carl Trueman, "6 Ways Christians Can Respond to Our Strange New World," TGC, July 11, 2022.

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