A dear friend recently told me that a major difference between the two of us is that I am an optimist and they are a realist. That led me to question where my hope for the world comes from. I think the hope I hold to is not due to a sheltered life or a pie-in-the-sky spirituality that ignores pain. I have seen pain close up and wondered where God was in the midst of it. My hope is a hope that is born out of necessity and the very last inch of truth I hold to: that God still redeems. It is the hope of Easter; that life can come from death. If I lose that belief, I think I’ll have lost everything.
My friend Matthew Russell, speaking on working with women who have experienced unspeakable pain, sums up the hope I have:
“I’ve seen God redeem things in really horrible places. And that is the hope. Do I have a claim on that? No. Do I desire that? Yes. Is that something I can guarantee? Heck no. Is that something that, in my bones, I hope is the truth about this world? That God redeems it or that God stands with it? Or that love moves to the lowest parts? I’m banking it all on that.”
As Christians, we are to be a people who hope. A people who, despite all the odds, all the projections, all the disparity in our world and even our lives, hope that God lives, that He redeems, and that He will move in the earth. It is this hope that allowed St. Paul to say:
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Life is at work in you. Think on that truth for a moment. God is working on our behalf, whether we see it or not, and that is something we can place our hope in.
This month we are learning about the Holy Spirit, or Ghost, in our worship. We are learning that God wants us to live the Spirit-filled life; a life that says God still redeems our lives, our families, our communities, our country, and our world. The world does not need more “realists;” the world needs people who critically evaluate situations, even ones that look like they are dead, and boldly declare that we believe in the resurrection of the dead. Will you join me in hoping for your life, family, community, and world?