My foundational hope, the hope I have when all other hope is gone, is that all things in my life are brought about by God to bring me into the transformative union of likeness of God’s son, Jesus; this, of course, is through the power of the Holy Spirit, the personification of the loving relationship between Father and Son. (Of course, this assumes that I believe in God and have not strayed from following Him.) Further, one day I will be with God (God will be among us–Revelation 21:3) for all of eternity in the fully restored creation with no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. Ultimately, my hope is this: I will see God’s face and His name will be on my forehead (Revelation 22:4).
This is an extraordinary, ultimate hope. Frankly, it is beyond my comprehension (1Corinthians 2:9). It is the very definition of hope: longing for the ultimate good, the yearning that seems to be within each of us for the not-yet-being. But…what about now? The world today is filled with so much anger, pain, greed, self-centeredness, intolerance (even in its best definition), unhappiness, the list goes on-and-on. In my own world I often seem trapped inside this body that is wracked with selfishness; voices in my head, mine and others, condemn me. In my own pain I cause pain for others.
Regarding my world, it is becoming increasingly easy for me to find ordinary hope–the hope found in day-to-day living. The idea that God is drawing me into a deeper loving relationship with Him and through this love is transforming me into the likeness of Jesus is compelling. I have such a clear image/feeling in my soul of what that relationship will be like that I am increasingly willing to endure anything to experience it. Sure, I have my attention diverted from time-to-time; however, as quickly as I can refocus on the goal–relationship with Christ–then my hope returns. I have the great ordinary hope that in Jesus I am already the child of God that I am becoming.
Finding ordinary hope for the world around me is harder. Sure, I can look at the world and know that one day it will be restored and all the hardship and death will be gone; my foundational hope for the world is nicely intact. But for today…where can I find ordinary hope as I read the newspaper? I don’t think I can apart from my own ordinary and foundational hope with God.
I’m not particularly given to progressivism (theological postmillennialism), believing that the world–its human inhabitants–will get better as history proceeds. History simply doesn’t seem to support that view. So, what should I make of this world? My head tells me that given the design constraints (i.e., God wants a loving relationship with humans with free will), this is the best possible world God could have created to ensure the most (but not the majority–Matthew 7:13-14) of us fall in love with Jesus; any other created world would result in even fewer entering into an eternal life of knowing God (John 17:3). I also know that God is active in this world in His way.
I know that some try to find ordinary find hope in the perceived security of a large 401(k), or the markets (stocks, bonds, gold, commodities, etc.), or a good job, or the green movement. Some try to numb their lack of hope with drugs or alcohol or cutting; for others, the drug of choice is distraction by cars, boats, big homes, travel, busy lives, multiple sexual partners, etc.
Apart from God I cannot see any ordinary hope for this world. Certainly not all of the things in the paragraph above are bad if experienced rightly within their proper context; however, none can provide hope as defined as moving toward the ultimate good, becoming better, progressing as not-yet-beings as the ancients defined hope. At best these things are temporal, failing to provide any real hope. I think we humans are quite resourceful in the ways we concoct to find ordinary hope in the face of the reality of this world.
The only hope, ordinary and foundational, that I can find for myself and the world around me is the hope of knowing Jesus (Philippians 3:7-16). If this is true, then maybe we Christians should stop shouting, “Thou shalt not…” at the world, being just another shrill voice in the din of angry voices in a world full of hate. Just maybe we ought to offer a positive voice asking the gentle question, “Where do you find hope?” But we need to know just where we find our own hope so that we can offer t freely to others (2Peter 3:15).
I’m going to begin asking people this question, where do you find hope? I’ll let you know how it goes.