False Hope

Read: Psalm 146

Happy are those . . . whose hope is in the Lord their God. (v. 5 NRSV)

I wrote in our previous reading about trusting our physicians but not putting our hope in medicine. I want to widen the lens today and ask, “What (or who) else do we trust that we should not put our hope in?” I recognize that’s an unusual question, but I believe it’s well worth pondering.

Psalm 146 says, “Put not your trust in princes” (v. 3), and I confess I do that—not with princes per se, but with other humans like political candidates. If only this person is elected president, I think, then our problems will be over. Beyond that, I put my trust and hope in many human institutions as well. I keep wringing my hands when I hear commentators speaking of “threats to democracy.” Don’t get me wrong—it would be terrible if American democracy collapsed—but should our hope be in democracy? As people, we often place our trust (and hope) in a strong military, a solid economy, and inspiring leaders. Psalm 146 warns against doing that.

What’s left when a strong military, a solid economy, and inspiring leaders are stripped away? That’s when we learn who and what we really trust and where we should place our hope. Remember Israel’s experience of exodus and exile. Not everyone stayed faithful to God during those difficult times. But those that did, as the psalmist reminds us, those whose hope was in the Lord, were blessed. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, confess what people and human institutions you tend to put your hope and trust in.

About the Author

Jeff Munroe

Jeff Munroe is the editor of theReformed Journaland, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Hopeful, Not Optimistic