I have been thinking about hope recently. The thing with hope is sometimes things do not seem hopeful. NT Wright begins his fantastic book Surprised by Hope with five stories. Most of the stories tell of tragedy and world suffering. In these moments the script that affirms hope for us does not always come through. These are the moments when darkness has shown itself and hopelessness seems like the right response. Last Friday, our country witnessed another one of these moments. It is in these moments the church must respond with robust hope because Christian hope has something to say even in the midst immense darkness.
Hope is what carried an old man named Simeon and the 84-year-old prophetess Anna to the temple everyday. Theirs was a story of waiting. Waiting for God to fulfill a promise. Luke tells us, Simeon grabbed Jesus, held him in his arms, and cried “For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to all your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).” In the same way Anna fixed her eyes on the Baby Jesus and told everyone that would listen the redemption of Israel was near. This kind of patience is not practice without pain or tragedy. It is not like Simeon and Anna did not have days of disappointment. It was not as if Simeon and Anna were able to wait expectantly without any doubt or confusion. Just like you and me they were full witnesses to the darkness in our world. They heard the mourning of Moms and Dads. We are told Anna experienced the pain and grief of a husband’s death. Simeon and Anna waited expectantly for God’s promise because they had robust hope. A hope that was able to hold them up in the darkest moments, even with a brush with evil.
We too have a reason for robust hope. It is not simply the hope of pearly gates and gold streets. We eagerly await the day when God puts all things to rights. We stand on tiptoes, even as the world groans for things to be on Earth as they are in heaven. For our adoption as sons and daughters of God and for the redemptions of our bodies. Jesus broke the chains of death declaring victory over sin and death. Now nothing can separate us from the embrace God’s love. The empty tomb says God’s reign is here and it will soon come in full. The resurrection of Jesus announces in history that God’s salvation is present. Though the darkness and tragedy can dull our hope, the New Testament invite us to work in the tension.
I love the words of Robbie Seay Band, “Hope is the call that is ringing in my soul but I can’t pretend that I see much light in front of me.” Our hope is what keeps us standing and centered in the promises of God. Hope is what moves us forward toward God’s newness. The promise of the cross and the resurrection is God has broken into the world. We are witnesses to God’s work but we are still waiting. We are waiting for God to make all things new.