I admit – there have been times in my life when I have been suspicious of hope, the same way someone might be suspicious of, say, miracle vitamin supplements or costly homeopathic remedies.
There have been times in my life that hope seems like a cheap escape from reality, or merely an opiate to numb a more proven despair.
Yesterday I posed some questions about hope to my group of teenagers that meets on Sunday morning. What does hope look like in action, I asked? What if hope is more than just a feeling, but concrete actions and practices that we can take and do?
One person, an avid baseball player, likened it to being in the middle of losing a baseball game. “You have to take small steps,” he said. “Like, you can’t think about winning the game. You just have to think about what can do – like, ok, I’m just going to get on base now. Then it’s the next thing.”
I found that advice very wise, and not unlike part of the lectionary readings for this coming Sunday. This is from Romans 8:
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
“Thinking positively” is a deeply American response to tragedy and fear and it’s not a phrase that I personally resonate with. “Thinking positively” too often feels somehow simultaneously too cheap (like a denial of reality) and way too hard (like the world is burning and you want me to… what, exactly? The world is burning!)
But I think if we reduce these words of Paul, and the words of my teenage friend, to simply “thinking positively,” we miss a more important invitation. It’s an invitation deeper into reality, an invitation into a radical, prophetic, and potentially world-changing hope.
I’m going to take this week to really focus on writing about hope (and possibly preaching on it this Sunday). But I think I want to close this entry today by asking myself, and asking you, how are you living out your hope today?
The world is weird right now, and frightening for many of us. How are you going to, in the words of my friend, going to get on base today? I’m not necessarily talking about your job or being productive or or keeping away the blues. I’m talking about – how can we, as we walk through these blues together, still keep some lights on?
Let’s keep walking, and keep listening, and keep lighting the path for one another.