At a family gathering when my wife and I were newly engaged, her grandfather looked at me incisively and said, “Are you going to be a good husband to my granddaughter?”
“Yes sir,” I responded, with as much fake confidence as I could muster. “I hope so.”
I'll never forget what he said next: “Why don't you hope in one hand and s*** in the other, and see which hand ends up with more in it?”
The word ‘hope’ didn’t inspire him, much. When it came to his granddaughter, he didn’t want my optimism. He wanted my commitment, and hard work.
We throw around the word HOPE in unserious ways, and it's wrong of us to do that.
We say, “I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow” or, “I hope they don't cancel my favorite show.” We use the word to say how we feel about things that we don’t control, and that we’re not going to try to do anything about.
In this way, hope is no more than wishful thinking, the thing we do with our fingers crossed, after we pull the lever on a slot machine. No wonder my grandfather-in-law didn’t want me to ‘hope’ I’d treat his granddaughter right.
But the thing is, we typically use the word HOPE incorrectly. We treat it like it’s a passive thing, but hope ain’t passive. Hope is a sanctified activity.
When we are in the grasp of true, Christian hope we see the future that God is bringing about, and we live as if that future is our reality, TODAY.
If I really, actually hope to be a good husband, I must ask, what is it that makes for a good husband, truly? And I gotta get down to business, choosing my words and actions as if I am that guy, even though I’m still becoming him.
To HOPE for peace on earth is to set yourself about the work of peacemaking, making every choice in your life, large or small, in service of that goal and vision. If, one day, there is to be peace, how will people live in that reality? How will they conduct themselves, and relate to one another? If we hope for peace, we adopt the lifestyle of the future peace, NOW.
If, in faith, I expect to one day life in a world free of racism, or any other social evil, I must examine and reform my life today, dismantling my own assumptions, and commit to the hard work of learning, healing, and making restitution for the wrongs I’ve committed. I want to be ready to live in the future that God wills for this world. That’s hope.
This is the beginning of the season of Advent, when Christians anticipate the light of Christ breaking into our lives on Christmas. The season has four themes, and the first one is HOPE.
You and I are invited to live hopefully this season, not passively waiting around for something great to happen that doesn’t depend on us, but rather as active participants in the new way of grace and peace that Christ is bringing to the world.
God bless you! Take heart!
The Table is a Christian Church in Davenport, Iowa, seeking transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship Sundays at 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport Iowa