Hope is an easy concept to talk about, but not always easy to actively practice. As human beings, we hope for many things: health, happiness, and love, to name a few. As Christians, our hopes are even greater: we hope for Jesus’ soon return, to see Him face-to-face, to be reunited with loved ones in heaven.
An oft used phrase is, “our hope is in the Lord,” but what does this really mean? Truly, the Lord gives us hope, but what are we to do with that hope once we have it?
It seems hope comes naturally to children. You see it in their faces and the matter-of-factness with which they talk. But that expectant naivety slowly dissipates as we age, and hope becomes harder to grasp. Hope takes a lot of energy, and it’s not always energy we have to spare. And yet, we must.
In “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis begins his chapter on hope this way:
“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”
He goes on to state, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Hope is not a passive feeling or just an indulgence for day dreamers. Hope is an action. More than that, hope is a responsibility for us as Christians.
To build on C.S. Lewis’ description, hope is a discontentment with leaving things be, just because they have always been that way. Hope is not falling in line with the status quo; rather, it is recognizing when something needs to change and becoming part of the solution.
When described this way, hope can be a difficult undertaking. How daunting to turn one’s hope from feeling to action. How easy it is to give up on hope! But it is when we start thinking a situation will never improve that our hope dissolves and hope-as-action fails to occur. And so, we must remain steadfast in our belief that we can help create the change that’s needed, whether in our life, our church, or our world.
So, dear reader, what are your hopes for your life, for your church, for your world? How do you turn your hopes from feeling to action?
Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6828