This is part of the series How Worship Contributes to Resiliency.
Losing hope kills resiliency. People can endure almost anything and bounce back if they believe that things will change for the better. Hopelessness is a dangerous sign among those at risk for suicide.
Christian worship creates hope, but not necessarily in a way that the world understands. Yes, you will hear Christians speak of God answering prayer and working miracles, but this is not the Christian’s final word on hope. The church lives with a theology of the cross that looks at Jesus’ crucifixion as a victory and not a defeat. The apostle Paul wrote, “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Jesus has promised us God’s kingdom and his works of healing and deliverance are signs of its coming. The expectation of answered prayers and temporal salvation, however, are not the most important sources of hope. More significantly, faithful patience and Christian steadfastness are also a sign of the kingdom’s coming. These are the works, Paul says, of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit whom Paul also describes as a down payment on the coming of the kingdom. Wherever the Holy Spirit is present there is hope.
Consequently, spirit powered worship (and that’s the only kind there is) is itself a foretaste of the things hoped for. The message of the kingdom, the invitation to reconciliation, the sharing of the peace, the fellowship of the table and the consequent experience of wholeness and love all give worshippers a sneak preview of heaven. Christian worship, then, creates hope both in word and deed.
This is especially important for warriors who have high aspirations for the people we try to help. Warriors see some of the most broken parts of the world and they lay their lives on the line to accomplish the mission. They watch their friends suffer or die. They see their enemies die, too. Even the innocent suffer. Christian warriors want all of this suffering to count for something. They want it to matter. Unfortunately, even in the best circumstances, war brings the bad with the good. The better peace which force brings is still a fractured, twisted peace, leaving the most hopeful as the most disillusioned. The broken city of man never quite becomes the glorious city of God. Christian worship restores hope to those who have witnessed the worst moments in human existence.