Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Hope

Sunrise over Lake Erie

"Hope," writes Miroslav Volf, "is love stretching itself into the future." (Volf, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Public Good, Kindle location 978)

Hope is expectation. When I hope, I expect something from the future. And that "something," when it comes to hope, is seen as good. "In our everyday usage, “hope” is, roughly, the expectation of good things that don’t come to us as a matter of course." (Ib.)

Hope is different than optimism. "Optimism has to do with good things in the future that are latent in the past and the present; the future associated with optimism is an unfolding of what is already there. We survey the past and the present, extrapolate about what is likely to happen in the future, and, if the prospects are good, become optimistic." (Kindle Locations 989-991) Hope is different. Hope "has to do with good things in the future that come to us from “outside,” from God; the future associated with hope— [Jurgen] Moltmann calls it adventus—is a gift of something new." (Kindle Locations 991-993)

Hope is about a promise, given to us from God. Because God is love we trust in God's faithfulness. "God then brings about “a new thing”: aged Sarah, barren of womb, gives birth to a son (Gen. 21:1–2; Rom. 4:18–21); the crucified Jesus Christ is raised from the dead (Acts 2:22–36); a mighty Babylon falls and a new Jerusalem comes down from heaven (Rev. 18:1–24; 21:1–5); more generally, the good that seemed impossible becomes not just possible but real." (Kindle Locations 994-996)

Volf writes: "The expectation of good things that come as a gift from God—that is hope. And that is love too, projecting itself into our life and our world’s future. For love always gives gifts and is itself a gift; inversely, every genuine gift is an expression of love. At the heart of the hoped-for future, which comes from the God of love, is the flourishing of individuals, communities, and our whole globe." (Kindle Locations 997-999)

How does a person become a hope-filled person? By living in constant connection to God. Hopelessness is a dis-ease that breeds outside the house of God. But within God's house we live close to the heart and voice of God. This is where we hear and receive the multiform promises of God.


Hope is the emotion, as an orientation of my being, that arises in God's presence where I hear his promises to me and to us.