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Sometimes we just need a different story.

I was reading a story recently that sounded like something I would enjoy. It was an intersection of Celtic Monks and Medieval knights and wizards; a strange combination but one I thought I would enjoy. Sadly, I didn’t even make it through the first chapter. It was so bad I just put it down. I needed a new story.

Sometimes in life we just need a new story. Is life really supposed to be this hard all the time?

Are relationships really supposed to be this hard? Many people just enjoyed a wonderful holiday season with family and friends, it was great and you wish it had lasted longer. Others spent the holiday missing family members who are no longer here, or wishing their family actually liked each other enough to not fight the whole time or even get together at all.

Are jobs really supposed to be this hard? Many people enjoy their jobs. They love the people they work with. They love the people they serve. There is room for advancement and growth. It’s a true blessing. Others struggle to even make it day-to-day. Bosses are overbearing. Co-workers stab you in the back. The stress that is taken home every day is taking days off your life. The pay is so low it’s almost better not to work.

Is health care really supposed to be this hard? We are supposed to be healthy. We live in a time of great medical advancements. People can have new knees put in, and be walking later that evening. People can have heart valves replaced, or arteries bypassed, and live for twenty or thirty more years. Yet still too many people die of cancer. Too many children are born with terminal diseases. Diabetes is still rampant. Babies still die in the womb.

Perhaps life is good for you right now, and you have no worries or struggles. But chances are either in the past, in the future, or right at this very moment, life is hard. And there are times when we want to just raise our hands and ask God, can we please get a new story? Is it possible to take a mulligan on this story and start over? Surely, it’s not supposed to be this hard.

Perhaps we just need a new story.

Readers of Isaiah 1 will often wish there was a new story. One would think that Isaiah would start off happy, and joyful, telling a little about the prophet. But instead, it starts out rough. God is calling out the nation. They have forgotten who has taken care of them. They are sick, full of bruises and sores. The city lies desolate; no better than Sodom or Gomorrah. God is tired of their sacrifices and prayers because their lives are full of evil. They have acted the part of a whore, going after other lovers. Things are bad and there seems to be no way out.

But chapter 2 presents a different story.

“In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)

In Chapter 1 the situation is bleak. God is calling the nation a whore, and claiming their worship is worthless. It can’t get much worse.

And yet there is hope, or perhaps a different story. Don’t forget, Isaiah says, life will not always be this way. Don’t forget, God will make things new. Don’t’ forget, In the days to come the mountain of the Lord’s House will be established, and everything you see around you now will be undone. This is a new story, and it will happen.

Sometimes we need a new story, or perhaps what we need to do is focus on the right story. Is the right story our problems, or is the right story our hope for the future? Is the right story the negative situations we find ourselves in everyday, or is the right story the hope that God is making all things new? Is the right story that the world around us is falling apart, or is the right story that God came near 2000 years ago, God became one of us, and in that moment, God started reconciling the world to Godself? Is the right story that we are spinning out of control, or is the right story our hope that God is right now at this very moment bringing about the new creation, and if we open our eyes, we will see it.

Hope is an interesting word. To desire a moment with anticipation. To believe something to be true.  I will hope in God. I will hope in the New Creation. I won’t lose faith. I won’t give up. I anticipate God’s good future to be true, and I will live into my hope.

Sometimes we just need a new story.