Today, our leaders pass out when asked to answer for their unscrupulous activities. They throw bants at each other on national television, boasting about the extent of their power, while their subjects painfully watch their ostentatious displays on empty stomachs. Tens (or maybe even hundreds) lose their lives daily to clashes with ethnic and religious colorations, and we’re driven to despair because the man in power refuses to do anything. Those desperate for hope run to false prophets who offer prophecies in exchange for special offerings. The air is thick with hopelessness.
Every time I sit to watch (or read) the news, I am constantly reminded that Nigeria is a deeply troubled nation. At a time like this, it is almost foolish to hope. Whatever little hope we have is taken away with each passing day. With every life that is ended violently by seemingly invincible bandits. With every promise from a leader that eventually turns out to be a lie. With every political drama we witness. With every corrupt official that acts above the law and gets away with it. Hope vanishes slowly.
I often wonder if things will ever change for good. I am often told of “better” days, when we had it good. The days when prophecies and predictions went forth, claiming that we were on the verge of economic breakthrough and great prosperity. The good, old days. Those were the days before I was born. If we really had it as good as many today claim we did, then we have fallen from a great height indeed.
Today, the leaders and the led are caught in an ever-enlarging web of corruption. The classroom teacher in an obscure village is as corrupt as the civil servant in Abuja who robs the nation to enrich himself. The poor is as corrupt as the rich, the illiterate as the learned. Corruption has become our trademark, the invisible mark on our foreheads. Corruption thrives everywhere. In our academic institutions. In the public and private sectors. Even in our churches.
In moments when I feel utterly hopeless, I think like the captain on whose hand King Jehoram rested as Elisha brought words of hope in the middle of a hopeless situation: “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” (cf. 2 Kings 7). When feelings of hopelessness cast dark shadows over me, I often wonder if things could ever change in my country, even if the Lord were to perform a miracle. If the Lord should pay us a visit, could my country get better?
Could our “big” churches ever become gospel-centered? Could a revival happen in this country that would bring men to their knees in worship of God? Could the Spirit of the Lord move in such a way that we would encounter massive conversions? Could we have leaders who would put the interests of the people above their desires to amass wealth? Indeed, I think and talk like a fool. Of course, God can do all things and no purpose of his can be thwarted. I know that, but I don’t feel that every single time.
I constantly battle thoughts of hopelessness. Sometimes they are short-lived. Other times they last for a while. But I thank God for constantly reminding me, through His word, of His absolute sovereignty. These reminders keep me from being swallowed up by feelings of hopelessness. While my ultimate hope lies in Christ, and I look forward to a city whose builder and maker is God, I can hope in God for improvements here on earth, no matter how temporary (or seemingly insignificant) they may turn out to be.
In 2 Kings 7, God acted as the prophet Elisha had spoken. The captain whose mind could not have imagined any change in the state of his nation did not live to see the deliverance of the Lord. I am aware of the differences between my current situation and that of Israel in the 9th century BC. I certainly do not have a promise from God assuring me of better days in my country, or a covenant between God and my country, but God’s past deliverance of his people reminds me that he acts in ways that cannot be fathomed. Four lepers became God’s chosen instruments to bring about his purposes in Israel.
If the all-powerful God could use lepers, outcasts with zero military experience, to defeat a powerful enemy and save an entire nation, I would be a fool to think that any situation is hopeless. If God could do that, can he not do the same if he wishes to do so today? Can he not work miracles even in my country today?
Oh, my soul, hope thou in God. He is the health of your countenance and your God.