Times feel dark. Sometimes my columns name the darkness. This time I wanted to talk about hope. But I hear it; I feel it; it haunts me. How do I speak of hope in the face of our “todays?”
Hurricanes and earthquakes indiscriminately leave people broken and homeless — many with nothing with which to rebuild. Dreamers, “illegal” through no fault of their own, having stepped out of the shadows to be “legal,” now risk deportation to a “home” they haven’t seen since childhood. And where is the hope when after Charlottesville and another unjustified outcome in Saint Louis there are more people who think a kneeling athlete is more of an insult to the flag than the injustices that people tolerate in its name? To whom or to what do we turn when the bravado of our political leaders leaves us but seconds to nuclear midnight?
And in the face of the deadliest domestic massacre in American history, what kind of solidarity could we be seeking when a moment of silence rather than gun law reform is the best we receive from our elected leaders?
How do we arrive at hope? More important, how do we live in hope as hope?
I once heard a theologian say during the aftermath of an earthquake that the earthquake or any disaster could never prove that God did not exist as long as humanity responds with the dignity, wisdom and mercy that we would expect from God.
The reality of God is made present in the activity of those made in God’s image — us — all of us. Knowing the sadness and grappling with the anger not as a reason to hate, but as a reason to lament, validates hope.
Hope is the reality that goodness wins and breaks forth amid the evil no matter how bad things appear.
So, hope. For those of us of the Christian faith, hope is the person of Jesus. Jesus is the center of joy and the ever-living affirmation that evil — no matter how it is named or clothed — simply does not win. Yet one need not explicitly believe in Jesus to benefit from the hope of Jesus.
Jesus talked about leaven. It can raise all bread. Or it can spread and infect and ruin.
Hate, fear, self-centeredness and selfishness are the darkness and the leaven of human failure spread by hate groups and those who shun the poor or discriminate against people for any reason.
Hate deserves no hearing. In all of human history, it has ultimately left no credible or laudable mark. It has spawned no creative genius. It casts no brilliant light.
And hope — like being and living — is a verb.
Real hope comes from raising up and making things better for yourself and those around you because it is better to stand amid too much goodness or to work for too much goodness than to protect oneself from imaginary badness or by promulgating hate and distrust.
Some people are just hate filled. We can’t fix them. Like stale bread or moldy cheese, we need to move on without them. We have too much good to do to spend any time caring about why they think hating people solves a problem.
So, hope is in the good we do.
For example, like what we saw in our own community with the recent “We Love Our City Serve Day,” where local churches brought together people to serve in various capacities meeting the needs in community.
Hope is in making good kids and having coffee with good neighbors. Hope is voting so that hate gets only one term and seeing that his Congressional supporters retire with him.
But first and always, we must do good whenever and wherever and for whomever we can.
We must be the new movement of an already weary century.
Oh, there will still be dark times.
Humanity has never quite lived up to its potential. But it’s there. We are its heralds and we live in hope.
David Johnson is the pastor at TriWorship Covenant Church – Multi Ethnic Faith Community. Contact 206-861-3844, firstname.lastname@example.org.