We like warm, comforting outcomes. It is wonderful to feel good about one's efforts. It is fantastic to know that stretch destinations are reached. Yet, not everything we touch and do turns out the way we imagined.
I am not sure there is a good way to deliver bad news. I believe compassion, a sense of empathy, and a willingness to hear the other side, are important components if the process is to go as well. Yet, even with these, there may not be a way that leaves everyone feeling good. I find that the conundrum masks the question lurking beneath the surface. If we do not confront our weaknesses, failures, and challenges, what hope do we have of anything but a natural outcome?
The question has extreme consequences. It is often hard to accept, but the natural outcome of our efforts is ultimately failure. We may succeed for a time. Given our weaknesses, the presence of Evil, and the freedom of others to help and hinder, with time we will fail. As ugly as it might sound, this is something life guarantees.
God is not willing to accept the outcome of our failure. In love, mercy, and redemptive action, God's words are a blunt confrontation we would do well to hear. “And now this indictment, you priests! If you refuse to obediently listen, and if you refuse to honor me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, in worship, then I'll put you under a curse. I'll exchange all your blessings for curses. In fact, the curses are already at work because you're not serious about honoring me. Yes, and the curse will extend to your children. I'm going to plaster your faces with rotting garbage, garbage thrown out from your feasts. That's what you have to look forward to!” (Malachi 2.1-3)
The story sounds like it is over, but it is not. God condemns our failure and restores our soul. God hates Evil, inside or outside of our hearts, yet passionately and unconditionally loves you and me. Today I will hear and respond. This is the way of Hope.
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