“Hopeless in Detroit” is a story similar to “Sleepless in Seattle”. Both are love stories that start with tragedy and despair but end with burgeoning joy. And, I believe, the Detroit story’s ending is the better of the two.
I hope you know that the “Hopeless in Detroit” is not just about Detroit or its five-county metro area. It is about our entire nation – and every country across the globe in 2020. So please, where I write “Detroit” insert your own locality.
Today is Thanksgiving Day – yet many are wondering what there is to be thankful for. The number of people hungry or impoverished is growing. Our family gatherings for this holiday are altered and limited … or completely eliminated. There seem to be increasing shortages of paper products, groceries … and even – believe it or not – small turkeys and booze! And most of us have friends or family members who have or are experiencing the deadly powers of COVID-19. Talk about things being “hopeless”!
While many seem to be viewing these as unprecedented times, we know differently. Over the years since our Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension we have seen repeatedly the fulfillment of his words, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines (and pestilence) and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24.7) Even the very first generation of believers in the post-Pentecost church experienced the destruction of Jerusalem, famine in Judea, and global persecution for their faith.
Yet, in his letter to Christians living through those times Peter (shortly before being martyred) wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1.3). And he goes on to say, “The God of grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. To him be glory and dominion forever.” (1 Peter 5.6-7). In other words, life for those who are alive in Christ Jesus is anything but “hopeless.”
You may recall that in “Sleepless in Seattle” it takes both the intervention of a third party (Jonah) and “fate” (I prefer the term “Divine intervention”) for the storyline to change. If you are presently hopeless in “Detroit”, consider today’s Thursday’s Thirst to be your “Jonah”. If you are already living in “this hope that will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5.) then consider yourself being called as a “Jonah” for others.
St. Paul says it this way. “God, who said, ‘Let light shine in darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; … So we do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4.6-9, 16-18)
And hymn writer Edward Mote put it this way: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness … When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace … When all supports are washed away, he then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” (LW 368)
The bottom line simply – and wondrously – is this: “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14.8) Hopeless in Detroit? Not a chance. We are the Lord’s … this day and forever. This is our love story that has no end!