Cheap Hope

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?

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3 thoughts on “Cheap Hope

  1. Accepting your own statisitcs, at least 80% of the world population have religious beliefs of some sort. It stands to reason that they ought to be held responsible for all the killings and sufferings the planet has endured.
    Let’s not go as far back as the crusaders and the inquisitions, or even the 100-year war, the 30- year war, or the rest of the glorious religious wars in Europe, or even the genocide committed by us against the native Americans, mainly by pious Christian settlers. Lets not go that far.

    The last century alone witnessed WWI, WWII, Holocaust, the A-bomb that killed millions in Japan, etc…. And we seem well on our way to beat that record this century.

    Apartheid in south Africa was not dismantled by hope in God; it was a secular resistance. While eternal hope in the heart of native Americans did not spare them the savegery we inflicted upon them.
    Religious wars grounded in God- induced hope, are at least as ugly as economics-based wars.
    Conveniently peddling hope, forgivness, and other drugs does not deal with reality.
    Just look across the globe (which is full of hopeful believers according to your stats) and tell me where your God is. And dont say let’s hope in God and things will be better; the planet has been in this never ending war mode forever. It’s time your hope has paid off, is it not?
    ekwaysan

    • My hope – as in, my personal hope in Jesus Christ – pays off all the time for me, whether it’s comfort through someone’s untimely death or hope for my God to give me the best words to say in response to your comment.

      But more of what I was getting at in this post is eternal hope – hope in something on the other side of this life – Heaven.

      I agree with you – this world is full of suffering. And the point I am making here is that without the hope of Heaven – without the hope of God redeeming this earthly mess – I would see little to no point in living. I would have no lasting incentive to live this earthly life.

      Clearly, there are non-religious people all over the world who, for some reason, go on living with a worldview that lacks any divine hope. I marvel at this. What makes them go on? What keeps them from committing suicide?

  2. I don’t see any legitimate reason for hope in the life of anyone who does not know God. As ekwaysan pointed out, there hasn’t been much time at all for earthlings in which we have not known the horror of war. Given that reality, why should we expect anything to change for the better and what do we do with the atheistic belief that there is no life beyond this one?

    If there is no reckoning of justice and no existence beyond this life, why not commit suicide if life becomes intolerable?

    I would, by the way, take exception with the perspective that somehow religious people are responsible for all the conflict in the world.

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