Before I begin, I would like you to think of something for which you hope. What do you hope for? Spend a moment bringing something to mind.
When we hope for something we desire or expect something in the future to come to pass or to happen, and to be human is to hope. We have hopes in every area of our lives, for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, for our church, for our community, for our nation, and for our world. The only thing that limits hope is our imagination, and our imagination is limitless.
So is it right to hope for anything and everything? If you are a sports fan then you know all about hope. If you are a gardener then you know all about hope. In fact every creative act where the outcome is not 100% certain or known provides the opportunity for hope to exist. As soon as you can imagine a future that you want to come to pass, hope fills the void until it either comes to pass or does not.
Therefore, hope is in everything. It is in every creative endeavour, no matter how small. What is surprising to realise or become aware of, is that much of our hope is out of our control. The infinite number of variables, paths, and decisions mean that the outcomes of that which we desire to see come to pass, are rarely certain. If it was, then football leagues would be pretty boring! Therefore, we try to stack the odds in our favour. As we work towards the desired future outcome we do things and act in ways that make that desired outcome more likely. For example, if we are a football team, we buy better players; if we are a gardener, we get better compost; if we are a painter, we work to develop our skills, and so on.
However, there is always that aspect outside of ourselves over which we have no control. For example, we have little or no control over the weather; it is very difficult to predict exactly how football players will perform together on any given day; and it is very difficult to direct every brush stroke on a page or whether our inspiration will wax or wane.
One of the remarkable things about the God of Judaism and the God of Christianity — our God, the God in which we trust, and the God whom we worship today — is that God is a God of hope.
In other words, God, being creator or creative, means God imagines a desired future and wishes to bring that to pass. Every act of creation by God is exactly that — God imagining and then setting about to make it happen. “Let us create human beings,” said God. And what should they be like? “Let us create them in our image,” said God.
The question we can ask is, “What is it that God desires for the future of the world? What is it that God desires for our nation? What is it that God desires for our community? What is it that God desires for our church? What is it that God desires for our friends and neighbours? What is it that God desires for our families? And what is it that God desires for ourselves?” Because, in the same way that hope exists for us, in every area of our lives, hope exists for God.
The testimony of God, that we read in the Bible, is of a God that has never given up hope, no matter what happens. God is eternally and infinitely hopeful.
Therefore, the task of the Christian and the Church is to align our hopes with God’s hopes, and for us to join with God to see those Godly future desires come to pass.
It is quite possible to live a life without God, and when it comes to hope, without God, hope can only be placed in determinism where fate is ultimately the outcome of an unknowable chain of actions or stimuli, or it is placed in humanity, for example, our own abilities, skills, determination, and character.
The determinist says, “whatever will be will be. I have no control over the future and I am subject to the forces of science and nature.”
The humanist, in this sense, says, “humanity has the wherewithal to accomplish whatever it desires if only we apply ourselves.”
The Christian theist, however, says, “God is sovereign, God has a hope for the world, and we are to align ourselves with that hope.”
Our hope is not in random determinism or in humanity. The book of Lament in the Old Testament contains this phrase, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:24). Our hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ who lived, died, and conquered death. Today, whether you are hope-full or hope-less, may you turn to Jesus and find your hope in him.