Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
We need things to keep us alive (food, shelter, and the like) we also need a reason to want to stay alive. We need a reason or reasons to keep living in the face of life’s struggles and losses and our inevitable fate, which is death. The short-term hopes we cast into the waters of living, like the ever-hopeful fisherman – provide those reasons.
What do we do when hopes conflict, when our hopes for the future are actually locked in combat with the hopes of others? Republicans and Democrats have deep political hopes, hopes for what tomorrow will look like. Yet these hopes may not be OUR hopes but THEIR hopes. One party’s buoyant hope is the source of the other’s fearful dread. One party’s hope creates suspicion and mistrust, even hatred within the other. It is hard to see any hopeful future here. Yet this has been and is the story of history.
The proper analysis to apply to anything and everything to which you look for hope; personal fulfillment, family, relationships, money, political causes, career, you name it – is this: all these hopes will eventually disappoint. In fact, the human project is a history of all these proffered, unrealized, hopes. Each and all of them are ultimately a mirage in the desert. Which amounts to hope that disappoints, hope without rescue.
Paul speaks of a hope in which all who know it may rejoice. Rejoice! That is his word. We may rejoice now in a hope that is rooted not in the faulty assumptions and promises of the human project, but in a hope that has its source in the Living God who raised Jesus from the dead. This hope takes hold of the heart and fills it with the vision of a future beyond the mirages of this fallen world. That future begins now when we come upon the oases of Word and Sacrament, where the proclaimed Gospel Word sustains us on this journey of struggle and suffering through the desert. These oases moments of rest and refreshment, to use Paul’s words,
“…produce endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”
Therefore, my friend, look to the hope that is in Jesus Christ. He is no mirage in the desert, but the very embodiment, risen from the grave, of that future which, in every way, will not disappoint.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus our Lord.”