Rediscovering hope in a hopeless culture

We live in one of the most hopeless, now-oriented cultures in human history. We can hardly look past today, much less the next election without shaking our heads. Our imaginations are filled with dystopian, future-shock books and movies and video games.

This is the hopeless life our culture offers us …

The hopeless life lives only in the now. It sees only the now, feels only the emotions of the now, clings to what it has in the now.

The hopeless life is a grasping life. It’s unhappy with what it doesn’t have right now, so it grabs for something — anything — to fill its emptiness.

The hopeless life sees no potential in the future. Therefore, it longs for an over-sentimentalized past that never actually existed and definitely doesn’t exist now.

The hopeless life is an entertain-me life. It has lost the purposefulness of meaningful, future-oriented work and turns to sports and TV and other entertainments to fill its bored existence.

The hopeless life is a reduced life. It is unaware of concealed forces working just below the surface like the seeds of a summer squash that are just about to push through the soil and spread their vines across the garden.

But this world is also filled with living realities that can restore a hopeful imagination …

Hope is a farmer who sews seeds now for a bountiful crop in future seasons.

Hope is a sailor who leaves the shore on a journey to another land.

Hope is a student who learns today in order to act tomorrow.

Hope is an athlete who strains in practice now in order to play with endurance later.

Hope is a cook who smells the pie baking in the oven, enjoying the scent of what is to come.

Hope is a vintner who says, “No,” to grape juice in order to say, “Yes,” to wine.

Hope enjoys in the present hints of a more expansive future that it is investing in now. It knows the work of today will bring the rest of tomorrow; the No of now will bring the many Yeses of then.

Hope perseveres in the midst of suffering, knowing that what is wrong now will someday be made right by the Judge.

God has given us all kinds of small hopes in this world to teach us to be hopeful for the day when the great Hope shall be veiled no more.

Hope is a river, drawing us into the vast ocean of God’s glorious future. It doesn’t diminish the present; it gives meaning and destination to everything we experience right now.

In the meantime, we wait and work and give and sew and learn and practice and say our necessary Nos, knowing that God’s best is yet to come.