29 Sep A Call to Restore Hope
Rector of Church of the Holy Spirit, Leesburg, VA
People today say, “I hope I get that ______(job, appointment).” For them, hope is a wish, a desire. In the Bible, hope is stronger stuff. Biblically, hope is a “strong and confident expectation.” Hope is a virtue. Christians are commanded to hope. I’ve observed that local believers often hope for themselves and their congregations, but many have little hope for Churches really working together for the Kingdom of God. It might seem unrealistic to hope for a transformational revival in our DC metro area at this cultural moment and in our disunited state. Let’s look.
Look at our local experience. Admit it: in general, and aside from a few notable and passing exceptions (like the Promise Keepers movement), the Church in our metro area has not worked well together as One Church across denominational, racial, geographical, and theological lines. Until now. Until now, our experience has given us little encouragement to hope for the Bible-believing church working together to do much of anything. God’s influence is waning around us. But our hope transcends our experience.
Look at the data on revival. Researcher of revival George Otis says that in North America, God has come with a total of two revivals in the last one hundred years that have resulted in the transformation of a city or county. One is in Manchester, Kentucky; the other is in the Arctic north. When you look overseas, you get an entirely different picture, says Otis: over eight hundred cases of transforming revival in a city or region in the last 100 years have been documented. Transforming Revival is not nearly as rare as we think or experience; it simply happens rarely in Western cultures today. But our hope transcends the data.
Look at our God. My brothers and sisters, God is where our hopes start and finish, and this gives us strong hope. Asked who can be saved, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matt. 19:26) Our God specializes in doing things man considers impossible: from parting the Red Sea, to saving even rich people, to Jesus’ miraculous healings, to real help for the poor and forgotten. God wants to come and change our city and region, and so bring Himself glory. He tells us how in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” Our hope is in our God, and in His promises in Scripture, for He alone can save us.
Look at this opportunity. I’ve never seen anything like it in my 31 years in the area. A prayer meeting on the National Mall called by our own local pastors, not by someone from elsewhere, whose purpose is for the Church to come together on our knees to collectively repent. We’ll repent of our disunity; repent of lack of care for the needy; and repent of lack of care for our city and region. Where there is repentance, hope is never in vain. Almost every single pastor who has been approached about the Washington Prayer Gathering has said that he or she is in agreement that this is both a good thing and a God thing.
God is clearly up to something. For each of us, it all starts on our knees. It’s not about the optics of a big event; it’s about God doing a work in our individual hearts. Don’t worry about results in anyone else. William Law wrote, “Pray, and let God worry.” Come, Lord Jesus; our Hope is in You.