Editorial note: This blog is the fifth in a six-part series featuring our free Lenten resource, "A Scriptural Pilgrimage to Christ Through Lent," written by Lenny DeLorenzo.
There is no limit to hope because Christ has gone beyond the last horizon.
There are times when we put ourselves at a great distance from God, due to our own sin and our own neglect. Like a sheep who has wandered from the flock, I find myself alone and isolated. It is all my own doing. I rejected the care of the Shepherd, and now I have no one to care for me.
Or else, like that beloved son, I demanded my share of the estate and went off to the distant country to spend my father’s treasure on a life of dissipation. I am starved of affection, starved of nourishment, starved of the companionship I never fully appreciated. And now I am alone, wallowing in the filth of my own ingratitude.
Sin is its own punishment. We seek to rule ourselves and, in the end, we get what we want. God does not force himself on us, and so we have the power to remain alone.
At other times, we feel beyond the reach of compassion because everything has turned against us. We are sick. Our loved ones are stricken. Our relationships break. The economy collapses. Institutions are forced to close. Social life comes to a standstill. All the forces outside my control are too powerful, and I am overwhelmed.
Whether by sin or by tragedy, we touch the limits of hope. We can feel that there is no hope from here, from where I am, from this way of being lost to myself, lost to others, lost to God.
And yet, there is no limit to hope because Christ has gone beyond the last horizon.
This is the astounding paradox of Christian hope. No matter how far gone any of us might be, Christ has already gone further. That lost sheep is outflanked by the love of God in Christ, the Shepherd who probes every last inch of the farthest lands. If that lost son who is in the “distant country” were to somehow look even farther than his own miserable destitution, he would see there the Only Begotten Son of the Father who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7). And when everything else collapses, there remains the one who is the Wisdom of God, unveiling the wisdom of men as foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Christian hope is not an idea; it is an action. It is a person. It is the one who has already gone past the last horizon to stretch the love of God all around creation––through it, above it, beneath it. We are in his embrace like a fish is in water. Every place is a place from which to call out for the Father’s mercy because the Son has loved the Father from everywhere.
We are anxious, and he asks us why. He asks us to trust.
We are covetous, and he asks us why. He asks us to cling to him rather than lust after the whole world.
We lose the courage to cry out to God, and so he cries out for us: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:2). He has already cried out for us. He gives us reason to hope that our cries are heard. He takes our cries into his cry and offers them to his Father.
There is no limit to Christian hope because Christ has gone beyond the last horizon.
On this Lenten journey, we trace the steps of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, our Lord. Those steps go all the way into and past the land of the lost sheep, all the way beyond the distant country of the lost son, all the way through the collapse of everything we’ve built up, and all the way into the dense darkness of the grave. Because he has gone there, we can hope from everywhere. Nothing is too lost for him to find. Nowhere is too far gone. No one is too far gone. He has made every place a potential place of God’s mercy and our conversion.
He just asks us to trust him enough to cry out.
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