What gives you hope? And what, if anything, makes you question hope? And what makes you question your questions of hope? And..
My favorite NFL team had a noon kickoff on a recent Sunday. Honestly, I was surprised they were still playing. I (like practically everyone else who had a thought about NFL playoffs) thought they would lose the previous week. But, they were playing! After worship, I almost always eat lunch with a group from church. We decide where to go eat after worship. When I was asked my preference, my answer was, “Somewhere with a tv I can see.” We picked a place and when I arrived, they had made sure I had a good spot. The other team had already scored twice by the time I got to the restaurant. 😦
By the time we left, it looked like my team was going to lose. My older daughter said, “There’s still hope. It’s not over yet.” I replied, “Yes. There’s still hope. But it’s not like the hope in Jesus.” Unfortunately, the hope in my NFL team was fleeting and died with the clock at 00:00. But, like Romans 5:5 says, the hope we have from God does not disappoint.
Our hope from God is a sure and certain hope. I wish we had different words to convey the different levels of confidence in our hope. The hope for my NFL team was a low level of hope full of uncertainty. I was disappointed but not surprised that my team lost even while I hoped they would win. But that’s not the same kind of hope as the hope given by God.
I am absolutely convinced that the hope that is a gift from God is a sure and certain hope. God is present. God will provide. God is at work in and through the situations, circumstances, and people of faith. While I don’t know how or when any particular thing will be resolved, I am convinced that there is solid, unwavering hope because of God.
During 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie preached a sermon that expresses more eloquently what I am attempting to covey about the difference in our typical use of “hope” versus our “hope” in God. Our hope from God is resurrection hope. Here’s a link to the print version of that sermon by Bishop Huie. It’s worth reading the whole thing but the discussion of hope that I’m talking about starts at the end of page 3. And here’s an article about the sermon and the worship service if you’re that curious. I wish I could find a video link too but it looks like it has been pulled.
I love listening to Bishop Huie preach for General Conference. I specifically remember two General Conferences which had worship services in which she preached. In both of those sermons the imagery spoke to me deeply. In 2000, I watched her preach via streaming video over a dial-up connection. I can’t even remember how many times I had to reconnect to watch all of that sermon but it was worth it!