As we look back at 2017, so much has gone on that it is hard to say how history will remember this past year. At times, it almost seems as if it were made for late-night comedy shows. Though beyond the absurd things, as a country, we made historic decisions; some good, some bad, and some that we’ll have to wait to see how they play out. As we sit at the beginning of 2018, we have to keep in perspective where we have been and where God is calling us. While we continue to see the stock market go up and down like a roller coaster and media-laced panic, we have to search for a real sense of hope—for a new direction for our country, and hope for a strong future, and most importantly, a true hope In God.
According to the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, in the Christian traditions, hope is “the Christian anticipation of the future as the fulfillment of God's purposes based on God's covenant of faithfulness and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as known by the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.”
I think that true hope is sometimes more difficult than faith. With faith, there is a known element. We are here and we believe. We see faith through other people, but hope, true hope, is something which is hard for us to really see, since it is something that comes at the end. Ultimately, it is a hope for something yet to come.
Now, it is important not to go too far with this either, since hope is much more than our vision. Walter Brueggemann identifies four constructs of hope found among the Hebrew people of the Old Testament. The four constructs lead to the belief that God will not forget them and that God will follow through in his covenant. Whether we place a focus on the Christian or Old Testament view of hope, ultimately hope is something that is strongly pointed towards the future, and a powerful way of thinking. In the entry on hope in Reverberations of Faith, Brueggemann states: "A strong case has been made that a defining mark of a postindustrial, technological world is despair, the inability to trust in any new and good future that is promised and may yet be given. Insofar as despair marks the current social environment of faith, to that extent hope is a distinctive mark of faith with dangerous and revolutionary social potential."
I think that this is one of the most powerful statements on hope, because if we really have hope, we can overcome despair—though there will be a cost. Hope calls us to a new social reality, one that realizes that we are not held back by the things of this world, but propelled into a powerful new reality in God. Hope does not come from any temporal feeling, but from a constant longing and realization that God is part of our journey. Romans 8:24-25 reminds us that24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
To have hope, it needs to be firmly rooted in faith and placed solely within the loving and careful arms of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead … 1 Peter 1:3
 Brueggemann, Walter. Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of the Old Testament (Westminster John Knox: Louisville) 102.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen