Is there, with the easing of pandemic restrictions in this country, a widespread surge in hope?
Exploring the concept of hope in our scriptures. I was amazed to find only one reference to being hopeful – of success in battle – in the Apocrypha, rarely read in our worship. Just one reference, in Jeremiah to hopelessness. Hoping gets four mentions, but eighty-two references in the Old Testament, and seventy-seven in the New Testament, express the idea of hope.
Hope can be positive, welcoming something to happen, or negative if you are fearful hoping that it won’t. We can easily become immersed in fears and dread, just hoping, even against hope, that our worst fears won’t come to pass. Hope is always about the future, so is unpredictable. Even yearning for something positive happening, we must still wait and see.
A biblical story including hope concerns two travellers to Emmaus, on the Sunday after Good Friday. Very downcast, they try to explain to a passing stranger, how their hopes for a new kingdom ruled over by Jesus, had been dashed by his crucifixion. Worse, are worrying rumours – an empty tomb, and unbelievably, women being assured by messengers that Jesus had risen from the dead, even being seen. That very same evening those travellers hurried back to Jerusalem because by then, their hope had been restored – the stranger was, in fact, Jesus. Other reports reveal that ‘some doubted’. Too good to be true? Hope soon blossomed. The Holy Spirit at Pentecost enabled Peter, now filled with hope himself, to convince thousands of incredible hope for the future.
In Acts and epistles, hope abounds. Being convinced through the power of the Spirit, of Jesus’ ongoing presence, enabled achievement of far more than could have been dreamed. Paul, writing to Corinth lists vital aspects for Christians – Faith, Hope and Love.
Love may well be the greatest, but we do need hope as realised during this pandemic. After fifteen months of hoping and fearing, hope seems more realistic, though elsewhere, there is much more waiting. Maintaining hope is difficult if you don’t know how long troubles will last. We hope for fewer restrictions, more contact, and at least some former activities. Essential during ‘coping time’ is to live out those other characteristics, faith and love, expressed in caring. Thankfully there has been and still is, so much care.
Will life ever be the same? Life isn’t like that. We are on an ongoing journey with God’s inner strength helping us in difficult times, hope and trust enabling us to cope.
You do not call us to a life of self-indulgent ease.
You send us out amid challenges, difficulties,
opposition, animosity or even enmity,
to travel as flickers of light in a dark world.
But the light we carry is unquenchable
even in the direst, most hopeless situations.
It may burn low, this light of life, but nothing,
in this life, or the life to come
can conquer the light of your eternal love,
which will see us through to the end.