I concluded my sermon yesterday saying that now is the time to hope. Hope, Biblically speaking, is more than wishing. Hope is a bold expression of faith. Hebrews 11:1 teaches us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hope is clinging to the belief that something better will come because God is good and loving and righteous and wants something better for his creation.
We don’t have to be under constant persecution or experience continuous heartache to need hope. We can give a few moments thought to human trafficking, imagining a person we love caught up in it, imagining a person we love fearing his daughter is caught up in it, and we can find ourselves needing hope. We can care about someone whose Advent and Christmas are extra-difficult and extra-poignant because indications are this is her loved one’s last and find ourselves in need of hope. We can give a few minutes to reviewing the headlines and become desperate for something that is hopeful.
Jesus said when you see events like these, “Stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). He wasn’t advocating an indifference that stares blankly into the sky while people suffer. He was saying, “Keep your faith in me, for I will redeem you,” which is the hope-filled promise we need to get back out there to comfort, support, and help others and endure our own difficult times. It’s the faith that allows Archbishop Desmond Tutu to laugh freely and love joyfully, even as he’s spent his life speaking truth and grace to those who abused and sought to kill him and tortured and killed his fellow South Africans. His eyes have seen worse than I can imagine and they still shine brightly because he has never lost hope. It is his hope that keeps him engaged in bringing positive change.
The perpetually hopeless rarely have the stamina to participate in the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. The frequently hopeful often do. Now is the time to hope.