Hope means to keep living amid desperation and to keep humming in the darkness. Hoping is knowing that there is love; it is trust in tomorrow; it is falling asleep and waking again when the sun rises. In the midst of a gale at sea, it is to discover land. In the eyes of another, it is to see that he understands you. As long as there is still hope, there will also be prayer. And God will be holding you in his hands. - Henri Nouwen, With Open Hand, 85.
In an article in Christianity Today, Cornel West stated, “As a Christian, I am a prisoner of hope.” (Christianity Today, October 26, 1998, p. 88) In the midst of all I do or ever did, God was always been there encouraging me to hope for far more than I ever thought possible.
We need hope. Biblical hope is trustful expectation. Hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.
From what do you draw hope? What keeps you going and gives you a reason to live? Many people rely on simple wishful thinking and call it hope. Where Jim Wallis from Sojourners magazine tells us, “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence and watching the evidence change.” This is hope based on what God is willing to do within our lives.
Over the years I have been called upon to assist community groups work through problems, such as, alcohol or drug abuse. One of the most demanding problems in helping any group is to assist them in overcoming their own sense of hopelessness. When you approach a group that uses phrases, such as, "It's too late," "Nothing can be done about it," "You can't fight city hall," "You can't change the world," or "What's the use!" These statements indicate a group drowning in their own hopelessness. Their repeated failures only re-enforced their hopelessness, even though their hopelessness often leads to their failures, they see themselves only drowning.
Churches today are surrounded by people and communities which are drowning in the raging waters of hopelessness. The proverb rightly says that while there's life there's hope, but the deeper truth is that only while there's hope is there life. When the light of hope goes out and there really seems nothing to live for anymore, life itself becomes a overwhelming and deadly burden.
We must live with hope, yet we cannot live by hope. It is fine to hope for the best, but it is not enough. We cannot merely hope; we must take action. Sadly, too many things in our lives are tolerated in the hope that they will improve, when we fail to take some steps necessary to move forward. Hoping for the best won't do anything. Working and taking action, with hope in your heart, will bring about results. Hope works in your favor only as long as it is accompanied by action and commitment.
Hope holds on because it has faith in the strength and persistence of God's love for us. Faith, hope, and love thus never stand alone. To people and communities drowning in hopelessness; disappointed, disillusioned, despairing, emotionally isolated, bitter and aching inside, the church must stand as place of hope reaching out their hands to rescue the drowning.
“We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2b-5) We are called by God to become a beacon of hope in the midst of the world’s despair. “I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 121:1-2) The church is a place where the people can lift their eyes upon it and know that God is present in this place where hope is alive and active.