Abiding in Exile - What Do We Do with Hope? 12/24/2020

Abiding in Exile - What Do We Do with Hope? 12/24/2020

December 23, 2020

By Priscilla Joel

December 24, 2020

We all finally received some encouraging news a couple of weeks ago. A COVID-19 vaccine had approved by the FDA. Finally, a glimmer of hope after a long, seemingly endless stretch of darkness. This does not necessarily mean our fears and anxieties disappear, nor does it mean we should stop practicing vigilance to keep ourselves and our communities safe. There is still much to be done before we can live in a mask-less, social world once again. So, what do we do while we wait? 
 
We try to continue to do that “thing” that always makes me roll my eyes when I hear someone say it. We try to have hope. The word “hope” has never really resonated with me. It always seemed to me like it was this thing that people would ask you to magically conjure up for yourself when things weren’t going well. I’d think to myself, if I just had hope, I would feel better. I would be better. Besides, the rationale for having hope makes sense. If you have a positive outlook on life, you are more likely to make decisions that will positively affect yourself and those around you.
 
But frankly, hope is hard. And in those times that I have failed to have hope, I would then become upset, or even angry with myself, for being unable to have it. Until now. It wasn’t until the whole world got knocked on its knees by this pandemic, that I discovered what having hope meant. After reflecting on what it means to “have hope” for months, it has finally become clear to me, that hope, is not simply a skill or a state of being. It is a call to action. 
 
I think that having hope can mean very different things to different people, because hope is not necessarily constrained by an outcome. Having hope does not mean expecting or depending on a certainty. Having hope does not mean merely being optimistic. Rather, having hope motivates us and guides us through our lives.
 
Take a moment with me, and think back to pre-COVID times. What kinds of things did we hope for? We hoped for things like good health, for happiness and for a better world. But what did that mean? What did we do with that hope? We all made choices dependent on those things we hoped for. Maybe it was planning meals and exercising, hoping for better health. Maybe it was practicing Christ-like behavior to those around us in hopes of making the world a better place to live in. 
 
There was seldom an end goal to hope. We didn’t hope to be happy by simply checking off boxes on a list. It was a continuous, growing lifestyle we lived into that directed our lives. And that’s what I think hope does for us. Hope can be a very tangible and manageable thing for all of us to have. It lets us take control of our lives in a time when so much is out of our control. As followers of Jesus, hope is a realistic expectation of a good and joyful future that helps us take the next step when we don’t know which way is forward.
 
In which case, the question is, what are you hopeful for today, and what are you going to do about it? “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” - Nelson Mandela
 
Blessing to you all this Christmas Season.