For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100:5
From Hans Rosling, to Mark Manson, to Fareed Zakaria, multiple authors have written that contrary to popular belief, the world has gotten better, not worse, in modern times. The standard of living has improved worldwide. Access to education, healthcare, and technology has increased. Wars and violence are at the lowest globally from a historical perspective.
And yet, it seems as the world gets better, people’s hope is decreasing. This seeming contradiction is an interesting dynamic I write about in Chapter 3 of my book Hope Rising: Finding Hope in a Turbulent World. It was probably the most interesting chapter to write and wrestle with why this is the case.
I believe the problem lies in the fact that we are more than physical beings. We have more than physical needs. Yet when we try to meet non-physical needs materially, we are left unsatisfied and unfulfilled. This focus away from dependence on God was essentially what the three temptations of Jesus were about:
- Satan tempted Jesus to satisfy his hunger with physical food alone. Jesus responded that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4). The devil tries to keep us from recognizing our need for God’s word through material distractions.
- Satan tempted Jesus to prove himself to others outside of God’s ways and timing. Jesus responded that we should not put the Lord our God to the test (Matthew 4:7). The devil tries to play on our insecurities around our identity and others’ perceptions of us.
- Satan tried to tempt Jesus into worshipping him by offering him all that the world has to offer in terms of power, success, fame, and wealth. Jesus responded that we are to “worship the Lord your God and serve him only” (Matthew 4:10). While there is nothing wrong with power, fame, or wealth, many have sacrificed their character and worship of God to obtain.
In these three ways, Satan was trying to get Jesus to operate outside of the will of God and relationship with God. Jesus recognized, however, that there was more to life than what meets the eye. Not being focused on our relationship with Christ explains how our lives can improve externally, but our hope, joy, and peace diminish internally.
This apathy concerning their relationship with Christ is what happened to the Laodicean church. Jesus rebuked them for their lukewarmness. He noted that for as comfortable as their lives were outwardly, they were poor spiritually. He told them to repent and tenderly told them he was longing for fellowship with them. We were made for more than the physical. We were made for a relationship with God (Revelation 3:14-22).
But today we think we can live without God or don’t trust that he is good. In my book Hope Rising, I make this observation:
What we’re really facing is a loss of hope in the goodness of God. This loss is a virus that has affected humanity since the fall in the Garden of Eden. It’s one of the oldest lies of the enemy. The devil’s focused scheme described in Genesis 3 causes Adam and Eve to mistrust and doubt the goodness of God. By questioning what God really said as well as questioning his motives, the devil succeeds in getting Adam and Eve to doubt God’s character and goodness. He is still effectively using this same scheme in our world today, causing people to lose hope in God and his goodness. This is what lies at the root of why this world is both fallen and broken. We have lost hope in a good God. (Excerpt from Hope Rising, pg.27-28).
If you need hope today, turn to God, for he is good. Believe he is who he has revealed himself to be in the word of God. You were made for more than that which is material, physical, and temporal.