The fallout from the Ashley Madison scandal continues, and it isn’t pretty. On August 18, 2015, hackers exposed the names of more than 30 million people listed on the adultery-oriented website. Six days later, Christie Gibson found her husband John’s lifeless body in their home. The 56-year-old pastor and seminary professor had taken his own life.
In a suicide note, Gibson listed, among depression and other things, the presence of his name on the Ashley Madison list. John was terribly ashamed of his actions and fearful of losing his job. I’m sure he felt as though he had let a lot of people down.
Understandably, the family was devastated. They would have much preferred to deal with the fallout from John’s indiscretions over the lingering pain of his death. More than anything else, it seems, John Gibson had lost hope for a meaningful tomorrow in this present world.
In our current times, I can think of many reasons to lose hope. An out-of-control culture. The inability to meet expected standards. Financial problems. Ongoing health issues. The trend away from healthy relationships and toward personal isolation. The list goes on and on.
But as difficult as life in this world may at times be, one positive factor outweighs all of the negatives: our living hope in Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter wrote of this living hope at the beginning of his first letter:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (NASB, emphasis added)
Two things stand out to me about this passage. First, a Christian’s living hope is realized through the person of Jesus Christ, being tied to His resurrection from the dead. If overcoming the power of death is possible, then so is practically anything else. Thus, the reality of the resurrection is central to our hope, serving as an immovable anchor when the stormy seas of life begin to rage.
Second, we are “protected by the power of God through faith.” This means that one of our most vital battles involves learning to trust God even when our circumstances speak differently. The key to life isn’t about measuring up to standards, but learning to trust God no matter how distant He seems or how much we fail.
Regardless of where we are at any given moment, God always has a good plan for our lives. And in some mysterious way, if we fail to live out the fullness of His plan, He forms another . . . and another . . . and another.
I am not suggesting that God’s blessings aren’t somehow tied to our actions, but that one of our most important tasks involves trusting His goodness and holding onto Him for dear life no matter how much we struggle.
In the end, faith isn’t as much about us as it is about Him. We can always trust God because He is always worthy of our trust.
Jesus is our living hope and the anchor of our souls in troubled times. May God help us to see Him more clearly!