Hope is a wonderful and mystical thing. It is wonderful in that it can uplift the soul during the most discouraging of times and it is mystical in that it has a spiritual meaning that is difficult to see or understand. Hope is what enables us to share stories of the past with the future generations and what allows us to anticipate the good while enduring darkened days. Hope tells us that one day all our tears will be dried and all our pains will be taken away, replaced by an overwhelming new reality where we are the victors. Hope reminds us that there is something within us that is preparing us for our day in the sun.
It had been generations since the people had experienced victory. All those who were witnesses to the prior celebration have long since passed and all that remains were their written accounts of those jubilant days. The oral tradition, told by fathers to their children (who told it to their children) recounted how long ago there was a leader who built a team who conquered the world. Young people hearing these tales shook their heads in disbelief while the ‘old-timers’ looked forward to that team’s return to the pinnacle. But years passed and the team never reached the level of success they once enjoyed. Over time all that was left was hope.
Others eventually heard and read of this band of ‘lovable losers’ and began to pray for the team’s success. They would gather with like-minded individuals at all times of the day and night, developing rituals and recounting the exploits of those who went before them. Even people from other cultures and belief -systems began to take notice of this hopeful group; some of them even changed allegiances and began following this team, hoping that they too would be able to one day see the triumphal return of their boys, and their leader. They were sure that one day – one great and glorious day – everyone on earth would witness what seemed impossible: the hope of a people fulfilled as their beloved team finally wins it all.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19a (NIV)
Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs who, after 108 years of hoping, finally saw the fulfillment of their dream as they secured the World Series trophy early Thursday morning. They are champions of the world. But this post is not about the Cubs; it is about the church. The faithful people of God have been waiting, in hopeful anticipation, for nearly 2,000 years for their team (all believers in Christ as Lord and Savior) and their leader (Jesus) to return and claim the victory. Some wonder if that day will ever arrive or if the accounts from those who witnessed Jesus’ initial victory (through the cross) are true. Some question whether they are delusional in hoping for something that most days has little evidence of happening. Some wonder if there is any good in hoping.
If you’re questioning the value of hope, just look at the people surrounding Wrigley Field, ecstatic over a baseball game. Imagine the certain celebration that will take place when Christ returns to claim His victory. I hope I will still be alive!