Across the Pastor’s Desk: Trusting in the God of green hope

Published 8:00 pm Friday, July 16, 2021

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Josh Enderson

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Romans 15:13, The Message translation)

Josh Enderson

Some of my clergy colleagues may know that I have a love/hate relationship with “The Message” translation of the Bible. This translation of the Bible is a newer translation, which has a lot of life and energy in it, but it can be a bit “over-the-top” at times in its translating. At least that’s one pastor’s opinion!

I had that reaction when I heard the passage quoted from Romans 15. What does it mean for our God to be a “God of green hope?” My first reaction was that this was another example of the translator being a bit too dramatic. But for some reason, when I sat with it, something about it resonated.

I looked out the window. I saw a parched landscape around me that had turned brown from drought beginning to return to life following the recent rains. Green was returning. Life was returning after death. Ah. Green hope.

Green hope is that hope that waits and waits, knowing that the rains will come eventually. It’s knowing that God will come through, even if it will take a long time. Green hope is knowing that God always brings life from death, because that is what God always does. This is what the God of green hope does, and this is what we trust in.

Our own lives can feel like our yards: dried up, parched, barren. It can feel like life has left us with nothing left to give. Illness, death, finances: Many things can break into our lives and take away the greenness that we felt we had in abundance. We long to have it back. We echo the words of the Psalmist: How long, O God? How long must we wait?

Sometimes we want it faster. We want the greening to happen on our timetables. But, as we all know, life doesn’t work that way. Greening will come, life will return, but it just takes time. We wait, continuing to trust in the God of green hope, and remembering that God is always there, in God’s own way, bringing life from death.

Josh Enderson is the pastor of Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.