In L.A. there is a billboard advertising City of Hope, a premier center for cancer research and care. On that billboard you will find these words, "Where there is hope, there is life." Take a minute and think about that statement. Where there is hope, there is life. That very statement, if true, has huge implications for each and every one of us. For most of us, it should result in a paradigm shift. Take a minute to read what follows and perhaps you will agree.
What is hope? Hope is defined as "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best." I have to admit, that I can only agree with part of that. Hope is a feeling? Hope goes well beyond just a feeling. I can't be certain about where you stand, but for me, my feelings get the best of me from time to time. My feelings have the tendency to take control (no, I'm not the bleeding heart type, but I do wear my heart on my sleeve). On more occasions than I care to recount, my feelings have have let me down. For these reasons, I would have to define hope as believing events will turn out for the best.
I'm sure you have heard the phrase to "hope beyond hope." To me, that is true hope. I can only say this as one who has seen his hell and just about lost hope. Call me naive, but no matter how unbearable or insurmountable the circumstances get, I want to hope for the best. I've lived much of my life as a pessimist and I have to tell you, this optimism thing is far more enjoyable. I'm not to the point where I can see the good in everyone or in every circumstance; but that is where I, one day, hope to be.
Back to that whole feeling thing. Let me present my case why hope is so much more than a feeling. Hope is what allows some of us to get out bed every morning. Hope is what feeds our dreams. Hope is what fuels our passions. Hope allows us to take the next step. Hope allows us to take risks. Hope gives us the courage to try again. Hope has the ability to heal. Hope keeps us wanting (and waiting). Hope is a commitment. Hope is a way of life. Hope is a necessity. We were not created to live without hope. I would argue that where there is no hope, there is no life.
You need only turn on the news to see what a life void of hope looks like. Genocide. War. Terrorism. Scandal. Financial disaster. Suicide. These things are all the result of a loss of hope--or perhaps hope misplaced. Too often we put our hope in the temporal things of this world. Often we put our hope in money, only to become broke. Some put their hope in health, only to become ill. There are others who put their hope in possessions, only to have them lost. And some of us put our hope in relationships, only to see them broken. What is even more disheartening is how many of us put our hope in religion or church, only for them to return void. At the risk of sounding cliche (and if you read that blog, you know how I feel about that), true hope comes from and can only be found in Christ. That is why Paul, in his first letter to Timothy calls Christ our hope. And Peter boldly tells us that the "mercy of God" and "the resurrection of Christ" allows us to "live with great expectation."
Let me take all of this one step further, sum up everything I wrote, and frustrate you that you had to read through all my ramblings. To live without God is to live without hope. "Why?" you ask. Because if there is no God (I'm talking about the one, true, triune God), then what you see is what you get. And let's be totally honest, if what you see is what you get, that sucks!