During my walk a couple of days ago, I was thinking about hope. I’ve often felt that hope is the most important witness for a Christian. Not that love or joy or all of those other things aren’t important. But, when the rubber meets the road, and life sucks, and you’re at the end of your rope, or you live in a third world country and are desperately trying to just stay alive, hope may be the only thing that can make a difference. I’ve come to believe that hope may be a greater motivator than love. Without hope, we can end up in despair, and that can lead to all sorts of self-destructive behavior. I think that hope is THE SUBSTANCE of our Christian witness, and that’s why we hear Peter tell us:
“… always be ready to give an answer, to everyone who asks you, (for) a reason for the hope that is in you …” 1 Pet 3:15
It’s not about how many bible verses we can quote, or facts we can rattle off. It’s about sharing our hope despite whatever may be going on around us. Why are you/am I a Christian? What difference does the good news (gospel) make in your/my life? Hope is the answer. Hope for something better. Hope for the possibility of this world and the next being a better place. Why? Because we’ve seen it done. We’ve seen God-in-the-flesh showing us how love can conquer the ugliest of humanity. And, that gives me hope. If Emmanuel lived to be an example to us of how it’s done, then we can do that too.
So, it was with great joy that, today, I read Steven Charleston’s* Facebook post. Here it is:
Down here where the great wheel turns, and all the sorrows gather, it is easy to lose your way, walking among the shadows. That is why I wait for you, beside your place to pray, holding a light against the wind, a sign of hope for you to follow. No darkness can overcome you, no fear can overwhelm you, for they are only a mist, phantoms that run before the dawn. My single light becomes the sun, your hope a bright banner flying, as sorrows drift away, like smoke from a fading fire. You will never lose your way, down here where the great wheel turns, for the Spirit waits for you, beside your place to pray.
As you contemplate hope, think about the following:
- Am I hopeful? Why or why not?
- If I am not hopeful, what can I do to claim the hope promised to me? Have I discussed my lack of hope with God?
- Can I explain to another person why the good news (gospel) is hopeful to me? If not, what can I do to be able to tell others about how the gospel results in hope living in me?
- What are two or three things I can do, this week, to remain hopeful, despite what my circumstances may be, or what may be going on in the world that has negatively influenced me?
In closing, I pray this blessing over you:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace … that hope may overflow in you by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15: 13
*Note: Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston is a Native American elder, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, a retired Episcopal bishop, an academic, an author, and a native Oklahoman. He publishes daily spiritual reflections on his Facebook Page. Read more about his books here.