My old friend Dave has been blogging a lot recently on the absurdity of bumper stickers, namely that they’re essentially shouting beliefs at other drivers. He even calls them “a sound-byte shout on the back of a car.”
With his recurrent posts concerning bumper stickers on my mind, I finally remembered to look up a bumper sticker that I’d often seen around Nashville but never understood. It’s simple white on black with the lowercase letters “igbok.”
If you get close enough to the car in front of you, you can make out the smaller text: “it’s gonna be o.k.” I had always wondered what this meant, and to be honest, I took an immediately cyncical approach to the phrase. It’s gonna be o.k., eh? How on earth could you know that? Seems rather pollyanna if you ask me.
Anyway, I finally remembered to look up the meaning of this bumper sticker while reading Dave’s latest post on bumper stickers, and the meaning honestly floored me. According to the website, the creators chose this specific language because they believe it’s the universal language of hope. It’s the kind of thing you need to hear from a dear friend when tragedy hits your life. It’s comforting without getting into unnecessary specifics. And it’s true.
It’s true because everything works out in the end in this world, and it’s not just happenstance in this case that the phrase on the bumper sticker points to truth. It’s intentional on the part of the creators.
What if God — the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation — made this promise? What if He shouted and whispered “igbok” from Genesis to Revelation? He’s the only one who could make this promise — and keep it. If He did, then we have reason to hope.
We think He did.
God’s “o.k.” doesn’t mean that the cancer will be healed, the relationship fully restored, the physical pain or emotional ache will go away in this life. It means that because He has entered and overcome our brokenness…we can live this life with real hope — a hope that knows one day everything will be set right forever in the life to come.
They nailed it, and it gives me chills every time I read it. This bumper sticker is one of the few substantial things I’ve seen spread rapidly in pop culture that’s backed by truth. The irony is that this bumper sticker’s genius lies in what frustrates me—and presumably Dave—about most bumper stickers: its succinctness. Most bumper stickers, aside from the snarky ones, shout something intentionally controversial without the space available to explain it. But this bumper sticker doesn’t need the space because it doesn’t need to explain it. Just as the comforting pastor or friend doesn’t need to launch into a theological discourse on redemption in order to provide comfort, neither does this bumper sticker. And while it can never replace the comforting nature of a friend, it can provide thought-provoking comfort and the opportunity to springboard a conversation on where this world is going and what this whole chaotic life is all about. It points to the truth, and that’s the most important thing.