What is hope?
It can be helpful to begin with saying what hope is not.
Hope is not optimism. Optimism is buying hope on the cheap
Optimism suggests all will work out well without work or commitment. It buys into the myth of inevitable human progress, that all we have to do is look on “the bright side of life“.
Hope is not positivity or boosterism. President Trump bought into the idea of “the power of positive thinking“. This can have benefits but at the end of the day is easily based on selfish desires, or “wishful thinking”. At the end of the day hope does not depend on positive expectations
Hope is not desire. Desire tends to refer to what we lack, what we don’t have. But not all desires are good. True hope can be cultivated by the mind as well as the heart. This is what the self-discipline of fasting, for example during Lent, is about – putting aside our own desires, and letting them be subsumed into godly desires, which are far more enjoyable and rewarding if not always so immediate.
Hope is not certainty. Certainty demands proof. But we know that hope which is seen is not hope.
Hope needs commitment; it needs eagerness with expectancy, based in trust in God, not relying on what is seen. Christian is a hoping against hope. Christ on the cross could easily have been overwhelmed by what he saw and experienced – but his hope was in his Father in heaven.
So hope is a piece of work.
It takes faith and says, How can I live this out in practice, how can I work towards the future that in Christ I long for, how can I prepare the way for Christ’s return to this world?
Over these days and recent years, this is a very hard piece of work, and we pay tribute to all those who have been and / or still are on the front line in your faithfulness to Christ.
At the end of the day hope expresses itself not so much in theories or ideas, but in the small gestures of love to one another – the hug, the cup of tea, the smile, the kindness. As you imitate Christ in these ways you bring Hope to those you are with. May the God of Hope be with you always.