I marvel at people who don’t have any religious beliefs. Depending on the website, between 2% and 11% of the world’s population are atheists, agnostics, or have no religious beliefs. Assuming a world population of 7 billion, that translates to between 140 million to 770 million people in the world today that do not believe in God whatsoever.
That’s astonishing to me. Primarily because God = hope. Even false gods can offer a modicum of hope, though I would argue that hope will run out. As long as we have something we believe in that is supernatural, we can have hope that the bad stuff in this life will not be forever. We can believe that something better awaits us. In other words, when we believe in some form of a god, we have a reason to endure this life.
But if we don’t have that hope, and hundreds of millions of people don’t, what reason do we have to live?
I guess some might say they live for their families. They love their spouses and kids and hang around to see them grow up.
But what happens to that reason when your marriage isn’t going well? Or your kid gets diagnosed with cancer? Or your teenager gets pregnant? Or when your kids grow up and leave your home? Or any other number of tough circumstances arise? Life is no longer fun. In fact, life becomes unbearable, despite having your spouse and kids.
What happens when the temporal sources of your hope fail you?
In Job 8:13-15, Bildad says, “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.”
Bildad says of these people who forget God, “they wither more quickly than grass” (Job 8:12).
When I hear “wither”, I think shrivel up and die. Depending on where you live, grass withers every 6-9 months. And those who forget God – those whose hope perishes because they don’t believe in God – wither more quickly than that.
What does a withered person look like? Depressed, bitter, angry, tired, disenfranchised. These symptoms can be alleviated for a time with temporary sources of hope, but they always come back when those sources stop supplying cheap hope.
There is only one source of everlasting hope.
“…there is only one God, who will justify the [Jews] by faith and the [Gentiles] through that same faith” (Romans 3:30).
What are you hoping in? Is it working? Or is it a temporary fix for your eternal problem?