How Did I Miss That?
Part 26: Hope Springs Eternal
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:15b-16a
Hope is much different from wishful thinking. Hope is grounded in knowledge and experience, not uninformed optimism. At Christmas we may wish for a new video gaming system, nice jewelry, or a family board game, but we hope for love in our families, rebirth in ourselves, and peace on earth. There is an essential difference between hope and a wish. Most of what we wish for is temporal, where our hopes look to the long-term.
The leaders we most willingly choose to follow are full of hope. No one is inspired by a pessimist – entertained, maybe, but not inspired. Most pessimists prefer to be called realists, meaning their view of life is based on what they consider reality. Unfortunately for themselves and others, their view of reality tends to be a small, fatalistic one. Pessimists and realists believe that for every good thing that happens to us, something bad must occur in order to balance things out. When life is good we need to be cautious because there will be hell to pay later. Theirs is a philosophy of limitation, not a recognition of the abundance from which we were created.
Certainly, we need to be aware that with life comes death, with joy comes sorrow, and with light comes dark. They are parts of the same reality. It is not that we must pay for our joy with sorrow, but in order to fully experience joy we must also embrace the sorrow that is sometimes a part of it. It is when we refuse to fully experience life that it hurts, that it leaves us sad, or that we feel we cannot go on. Joy does not bring sorrow any more than day brings night. They are manifestations of the same reality. They go together. One cannot exist without the other, so trying to separate them or experience one without the other is impossible. Hope does not tell us to be wary of life because death always follows. Hope assures us that with life comes death and both are good when experienced to the fullest.
Looking to the future with a confident hope frees us to live fully in the present. We know the future will bring its blessings, challenges, and solutions, so we need not allow tomorrow’s possible calamities or yesterday’s injustices to prevent us from fully experiencing today. From God’s perspective, the future is now, and it is good. Because we exist in time and space, we co-create the details and experience them as they unfold.
When the day comes that our physical body gives out, we hope for a new life that retains everything good from our days on earth and places it in a new life beyond. For those who know the Gospel, this is not wishful thinking; rather, it is the hope that is in us, rooted in our knowledge of and experience with God. Like a spring continually fed by an unseen source of pure water, life springs eternal; and life is good. That is the source of our hope.
There is always reason for hope, because hope springs eternal. How did I miss that?