There Is Always Hope

Life is hard.

Sometimes life seems too hard to endure. Broken hearts, angst, unfilled longings, setbacks, and breakdowns seem to liter are path. People are hurting. We fear life has past us by and we will not get what we want out of life that all we can do is exist and not live. We have been through dark times, when we fear our good has past us by never to return. We all face doubts, anguish, and adversity.

No hope is that what the gospel teaches us. Is that Jesus teaches that we have no hope. Is salvation about getting to a celestial paradise or living life to the fullest.

My understanding of the gospel is that Jesus is not just about justifying us before God or getting us into heaven, but teaching us how to live life to the fullest, loving everyone, and building community between diverse people. James 4 tells us to not worry about the past or future, but do the good we know we should do now. To do otherwise is evil (as The Message says) or a sin (as the NIV has it).

The gospel gives us hope and strength to live now and to face whatever is before us knowing that God is with us not against us. Living the gospel begins with seeing others and ourselves as God sees us knowing there is always hope. Living the gospel is facing reality openly and honestly. Living the gospel is about accepting the bad and celebrating the good seeing the blessing in both.

Stephen King writes, “Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” One of the things I appreciate about Stephen King’s fiction are his characters face demons, monsters, and ordinary tragedy not wallowing in their personal tragedies, but facing the darkness both inner and outer, natural and supernatural head on. Sometimes not all survive. Usually there is light at the end of the tunnel. Things don’t always turn out the way the hero wants it to, maybe their wounded or alone, but there is hope that they will find goodness again and they always seem stronger because of their journey. Just like in life, we are wounded, suffer broken friendships, divorces, loved ones die, but there is always hope and we become stronger and more able to handle what happens.

Hope is not passive or inactive, but is an active power that refuses to let the bad things get the final word. Hope says the story is not over. Hope says that God is not done with us. As The Dalai Lama says, our real disaster is losing hope. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” We must never lose hope. In Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith Anne Lamott writes, “Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”

Hope is extremely important. We need hope. Hope that things will get better that there is meaning to what happens (the good and bad) that even in suffering there is a reason. Hope that in our darkest hours when everything seems lost and no one seems to be on our side that God is with and for us.

I go to Starbucks to get Iced Coffee. They put it in a clear plastic cup. When I put cream in it at first it floats gently at the top, then without me touching it swirls to the bottom throughout the entire coffee. As I stir it in more the coffee lightens from black to a musky brown. That is hope! The black coffee is our despair that things will not be OK that things will never be how we want them that we will not be happy. The cream is hope. The stirring is prayer. With just a little hope and some prayer, God will increase our spirits and lighten our burdens.

Hope is dangerous. Just a little hope can drive a man crazy with the assurance that God is good and loves us in spite of ourselves. Just a little hope will alter our lives, always for the better. Hope always has the last word and it says no good thing ever dies.

Hope is not about life being all sunshine and flowers nothing bad happens, but knowing that in the deepest dark and most painful burdens God is there with us. That in all our darkness, pain, struggles, and defeats that God will transform us into the kind of people that will not only be able to handle the bad stuff, but the kind of people who can fully appreciate the beauty, love, grace, and miracles that are on their way. Hope knows no matter what comes our way we will be able to endure and overcome all the crap.  There is a light at the end of the darkness, pleasure at the other end of the pain, and victory on the other side of defeat. In Christ and in community, we will be the sons and daughters of God in a kingdom not of this world where there will be no more tears and sin is known no more.

For me, to journey with God means living in the world and facing each day with hope and strength not giving into despair or frustration. Life is not always the way we want it to be and faith to mean anything it has to enable us to live the bad as well as the good. God won’t do for us what we can and should do on our own. Faith is not just about us, it should point us outward to others.

I long to be a truly loving God glorifying, Christ-centered, humble human being praying for the good of the other person and myself as well. I long for a more passionate love for justice. Like peacemaker, I hope and pray to be able to reconcile enemies, to strengthen bonds, and to help all in need. I want to be a champion of the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden. My longing for these things is a sign for my longing for God, for God is truth, light, and love, the God of compassion and justice, the God of the poor and oppressed, the God who wastes nothing. The more I focus on the things, for which I long, the stronger the longing will be and the greater my loathing for whatever opposes this longing.

Grace and Peace

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