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Pastor Glenn McDonald: The Equation of Hope

So how’s your algebra these days?


Most of us grow up thinking there’s only one equation that really matters: E = 0.


An event of some kind happens, and that leads directly to a particular outcome.  


My parents fail to connect with me emotionally, and the outcome is that I am crippled with insecurity.  Someone I trusted with my financial interests cheats me, and now I'm broke.  A friend spreads a rumor about me, and now my reputation is trashed.  


E = 0 is the equation of helplessness.  It is the algebra of victimhood.  


She cheated on me.  He fired me.  They broke their promises.  Something happens and I have to pick up the pieces.


If you believe this is the way life works, you will always be battling fear, worry, and despair.


But the Good News changes the equation.  It turns out that life really works like this:  E + R = 0'. 


An event of some kind happens.  But I am empowered by God to respond to it.  Therefore I get a different outcome.


Just because we entrust ourselves to God, by the way, doesn't mean the E changes.  But where our stories are taking us depends entirely on whether we choose to respond as God calls us to respond.


So how does God call us to respond?


Here’s what the apostle Paul has to say: 


“Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’  Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good” (Romans 12:17-21, The Message). 


Is this easy?  Not in the least.


We may find ourselves screaming that someone has stolen our security and robbed us of our happiness.  We ought to hate them for it and do everything we can to strike back.  


But if our wellbeing and our joy are rooted not in whatever “E” might come our way this week, but in the undeserved, unconditional love of God, we can never lose our security.  And God graciously grants us the power to respond with a love that is not our own.


Just do the math.


If you change the equation, you change your life.



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