“And not only that, but we boast in our sufferings, knowing that … hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:3-5)
I never knew it before, but there is a difference between optimism and hope. Anyone watching the election cycle or dwelling in world news knows being optimistic isn’t easy. Everywhere you turn there’s hurt, pain, and brokenness! And even in our own congregation and communities, we know what it’s like to feel loss. I don’t want to make every sound bleak, but in those times, optimism seems like stupidity. For instance, when the stock market is crashing (or just the price of corn) and there seems little reason that it will stop crashing, it’s not the best financial move to start buying more and more stock. Optimism in that case seems out of place.
Hope, to me, is bigger. The stock market may go up or down, the price of corn fluctuate, the candidate of one party deteriorate in scandal as they both descend into insults; we may lose friends and family to heart conditions, Alzheimer’s , cancer, or so many other things; we may even lose our own lives. And while I could never be optimistic thru half of that, I can be hope-filled through all of it…Why?
Because hope trusts in something bigger than me, or the reality that I see, or the state of current affairs. Hope looks beyond all that and rests in the promise that God has made – and who has got it all in his hands, and who redeemed each of us. One of my favorite theologians, Rev Dr. Otis Moss III, put it this way when talking about James Bond as a young kid. You see, he loved Bond, and he would watch for hours. And every time Bond seemed like it was all going to end horribly awful for him, he would somehow escape, manage to capture the villain, and to thwart his plan. And not just in one movie, but each and every time! And so, as I remember it, Otis asked his dad how that was possible. And his dad said it was in the script.
There are times in our own lives were we may be unsure what will come next. We may face times of hurt, despair, brokenness, or uncertainty – and so much so that at those times optimism may seem foolish! And at those times we can still trust in the hope of Christ, that God’s got it all in his hands, and we will be okay… Why? Because it’s in the script! And I believe when simple optimism fails, we still have the hope of God which does not disappoint us!