The Reality of Hope
This is an old post written some time ago. I’m not sure exactly when. I cleaned it up a bit and decided to go ahead and post it.
1 John 3:8b — “For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.”
I’ve been dwelling on one particular word more than any other of late. It struck me once again deeply during our weekly community worship time here at All Nations this week. The word in question? Hope. Not just any sort of hope though: a deep eschatological hope welled up from within and just wouldn’t dissipate, especially during one particular song: “Everlasting God.” It’s apparently a Chris Tomlin song (or so I’m told) but for whatever reason it struck me:
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.
Our God, You reign forever, our Hope, our Strong Deliverer.
You are the everlasting God, everlasting God. You do not faint you won’t grow weary.
You’re the defender of the weak, you comfort those in need, you lift us up on wings like eagles.
I was meditating on hope during this song and a few things stuck out. For one, hope is about the future more than about the now or the past. Its about the potential and not what is. Because of this, hope always has eschatological significance. But so much eschatology is severely jacked in the worst kind of way. Eschatology is meant to instill hope but all too often across the religious spectrum it leaves us in a place of fear (at best) or even worse, terror. Fear and terror stand in direct opposition to the hope I want to be walking in.
There should be no room for these darker strains within our apocalyptic thought. As the song says, we serve an everlasting God who reigns forever and is our strong Deliverer; He doesn’t get tired. This doesn’t change — regardless of our current circumstances, and even better — it never will. And if that isn’t enough, He is defender of the weak and He comforts those in need. That pretty much covers it and should go lengths in dispelling fear and terror. So where does this leave me? Hope is necessary but can sometimes seem a bit too idealistic. We live in a world as seriously jacked as many of our eschatological aspirations. Fear–terror–brokenness–darkness are often all that’s left in hope’s wake. We see this played out every time we walk through communities we work in (and everywhere else human strife exists outside the saving grace of Jesus).
As the idealism of hope confronts the harsh reality of life it’s easy to question hope and its purpose and intent. But this idealistic hope isn’t really that much of an option — it’s much more of a requirement. It’s not something we actually have an option in if we are choosing to engage in the life of Jesus.
Let that settle in a minute. Realize that hope isn’t passive. Nor is it purely reactive. Rather, it’s something that spurs us to action. When followers of Christ start hoping, the kingdom of God starts breaking through into our broken reality and hopefully things will change. This is the beginning of the consummation–a world redeemed–of what Jesus inaugurated on the cross. The verse I started with, and was left with the other day during worship, starts becoming a visible reality before our eyes: the works of the devil give way to the glory of God. That’s where our hope is rooted at least.