Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
As soul-sicknesses go, hopelessness is among the most deadly. When Paul said faith, hope and love are the three things that remain, this is part of what he meant: Losing any one of them will cripple you, rob you of something essential; without them, real life is not possible.
Hopelessness is an egalitarian disease. You do not have to be old to catch it. Money will not save you from it; neither will beauty. You can catch it anywhere; the air is full of it. It feeds you this lie: that you know how the story will end, your story, and that it is not an end worth living for. There is no hope, not for your life.
Hope is not optimism. Living in hope does not mean having a good feeling about tomorrow. Neither is hope knowledge in an intellectual sense – you do not hope 2 and 2 equal 4. The certainty of elementary math is not the certainty of hope.
Hope it’s not mental acrobatics or positive thinking. It is what happens inside you when God’s Spirit comes and carries you past death and into life. Hope means death can break your heart, but it can’t kill you anymore. It can’t win. The war to end all wars have been fought. It has been won, past tense, and now history has no choice; the end will be good, no matter what.
In an essay on storytelling, J.R.R Tolkien makes the claim that all true stories must end in eucatastrophe, which is more than your run-of-the-mill happy ending – it is a clashing, surging chaos like a natural disaster, like a catastrophe, except that instead of terror and destruction, it brings about life. Stories can in the despair, but then they are only telling part of the real story; they are not going all the way to the end. Eucatastrophe is the truth, he says, because it has happened. In Christ’s living and His dying, there was a catastrophe –but in His rising from the grave, catastrophe was flipped on its head; nothing will ever be the same. And, as Paul said, “hope remains.”
We could not help without Christ life and without His Spirit in us, making a certain of this thing we have not seen. Some call it glory, meaning something like, “essential, absolute life.” We will not see it here except in glimpses, but it has been promised, forever, with shattering finality.
Jesus, thank you that you have made the end good. May I live and walk in that hope, and bring it to the hopeless.