Hope! And Change! — The City Online

Hope! And Change!

by John Mark Reynolds on November 27, 2012

I would think one disadvantage of getting older was a growing tendency to surliness, if I did not know so many crabby young adults.

This is the winter of our discontent, somehow not made more glorious by the iPhone 5, President Obama, or legal abortion.

My liberal friends are grim about their causes. My conservative friends grim about their losses.

I feel grim about all this grimness.

Just when I started to feel better, thinking about Hope (my wife) and hope (my life in Christ), my mind began to mock me. “Oh!” the thought began, “Hope and change! How did that work out?” I got out some Christmas ornaments and pop culture rose up and said: “Oh! You are just Dolores Umbridge with a creche.”

That was grim.

I sit and feel sad and old. Somewhere on the Internet someone is wrong and nobody is doing anything. Some of my friends and family are making bad choices.

And then I mock my “first world angst” and think about people with real problems. There are priests being murdered in Syria without anybody mentioning it. Christians in Egypt are persecuted and Muslims face tyranny. Sudan is Sudan. China remains a dictatorship and North Korea an atheist monarchy without even the proper pageantry or Isaac Asimov novels.

That is really grim.

And so I think, “But Jesus has come! The world is changing, I am changing. Even death is simply a passage to justice and mercy.” That is better, but then I wonder, mutter, natter, “Excuse making. Sure someone will get some pie in the sky by-and-by, but what about now?”

These are grim times and I now grimly grim I grimace at my overuse of grim.

And yet I still hear “Joy to the World” . . . not just on my Spotify, but in my deepest soul. I should feel utterly grim, feel safer grim, know grim is less risible, but suddenly chuckle.

The Lord looks down and laughs . . . He laughs with scorn at our tyrants, but He also laughs with joy. I am not just headed to eternity, I can slip into it now in prayer, in the Bible, in Communion, in putting up decorations. I can stop grinding away and almost slip the surly bonds of earth and almost touch the face of God now.

Sin holds me back from that reality. The more I consume the more tied I am to the mundane, but I don’t have to follow my heart, my passions, and my pleasures. All of them burn out and leave me jaded anyway. I can deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus, but not for the sake of the pain. The pain comes first and then the possibility of pleasure.

When I seek jollification, I find Umbridge. When I seek the cross, I find resurrection at the end. Sinfulness always begins well, but cuts off relationships and makes me grim. Even good causes or good deeds are easily twisted to lose present Heavenliness and degenerate into mere works.

But right now I sense that today need not be “another day of work.” The schedule can be followed without controlling me. I can sing the old songs internally with a fresh spirit, because eternity is renewing me.

This difference, this slipping from thinking about holiness to experiencing it is impossible for me to describe further. It is as if I turned on a light in a dark room, but then had to describe the experience to men who only had dark rooms. It is not credit to me that there is a light in the room. I did not put it there, only dim understand how it works, and couldn’t fix it if it broke, but there is is and it is glorious.

This much I know: weeping with those that weep in this time is easy. The Spirit of Our Age is Grim and so we party to hold it off. If you have ever been to an office party, you will know how hard people work at their fun. Like a man grimly making his home media center perfect for the few hours he will be able to use it, the pleasure hardly outweighs the pain.

Or we can work and play so that our play is work and our work play: it is turning on the light of the Spirit so that the Grim vanishes.

Grim vanishes when I move from knowing myself to knowing God. Am I happy? Is my cause winning? Am I humble?

I. I. I.

No wonder I am grim.

Turn. Look. Jesus!

Hope!

Change!

Glory!

Joy!

 

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