A Musing about Hope in 2022

As the new year begins, I notice that the word hope is used a bunch.


“I hope 2022 will be better than 2021.”

“I hope I get into the colleges I where I’ve applied."

“I hope I can lose weight.”

“I hope I get a promotion."

“I hope I win the big lottery next week.”

“I hope my particular team will win the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup or World Series.”

“I hope that I find a significant other or get engaged."

“I hope...”


As I look at all these things and so many more it occurs to me that we misuse the word hope a great deal.


Often we use the word hope when what we mean is that we are optimistic or wishing or dreaming.


Or we use it when we mean want to do something or have the aspiration to make something happen. For example, “I hope to get in better shape or to eat healthier,” really means that I want to do these things.


These types of statements are not about hope but about an aspiration, about an intention.


Folks, hope is not the same thing as optimism, dreaming, or wanting. Hope is so much more than

that.


My friend David Lamotte introduced me to Vaclav Havel. Havel was a statesman, poet, playwright, and a political dissident who helped lead the country of Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) out of communism.


In fact, Havel was both the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic.


Even in the hard dark days he experienced under totalitarian rule, Havel lived a life centered on hope.


Vaclav Havel, however, described hope not as a feeling but or something far more impactful.


In his deep reflections on the subject of hope, he wrote that “Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit.”


He goes on later to say, “Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well…, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”


Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.''


And Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”


The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose life and recent passing began my thinking about the subject of hope, once said, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.''


As a people of faith, we are called to orient our spirit in the hope we have in Jesus Christ and in the promised Kingdom of God to come.


We are to live life as those whose hope is in the promises God has made and in the sure and certain belief that these promises have already been fulfilled.


We are not to be people who are just optimistic that these things are true or dream they might be true, but we are to live as those whose faith gives our spirits hope enough to live as the faithful people of God.


We are to be people who choose love over hate, generosity over greed, peace over violence, understanding over intolerance, and courage over faintheartedness.


And in living this way our very lives become our testaments of faith in the God who is the creator, savior, and sustainer, both now and forevermore.


Alleluia. Amen.


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