I feel like our world is anemic for hope these days. How do we stand in the face of all that is happening in our world and claim hope? By the time you read this, the 2020 presidential election will have taken place. Given the conversations I have had over the past several weeks, depending on where you are on the political spectrum, you may feel like you no longer have any hope.
Hope is often defined as a feeling of expectation that something good will happen. It’s a familiar feeling. It’s the feeling we all have before the first Cowboys game of the season. “This is our year,” we think, but then by the sixth game, our hope runs thin.
All kidding aside, how many of us haven’t felt an aching of hopelessness at some point in the past month? Who hasn’t felt a bit hopeless about COVID, or the state of race in our country, or about the economy, or schooling, or about poverty in Dallas?
It’s tempting in our world today to think of hope in economic terms. We are supposed to carry a balance of 100 hope dollars with us all the time. When we encounter fear, suffering, doubt or pain, it subtracts from our hope balance. If you have 75 dollars of fear, you only have 25 dollars of hope. But hope doesn’t play by those rules. Hope isn’t a zero-sum game.
Our differing faith traditions invite us to see and experience hope in an entirely different way. No matter what faith tradition you practice, hope is far more than the feeling that something good will happen. Hope is the deep religious conviction that God or the Divine has not given up on us. Hope is trusting that there is a story greater than our present circumstances, and we are inextricably connected to the Divine, who will never quit on us. Hope plays by a different set of rules.
I can think of no greater message for us during these unprecedented days. May we cling to the hope that is beyond who we may have voted for, who we cheer for, or how school is going this week. May we cling to the hope found in the deep and abiding truth that God has not given up on us, and therefore we never walk these days alone. That kind of hope is never a zero-sum game.
With great hope,
Rev. Matthew Ruffner is Senior Pastor at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. He is husband to Sarah Ruffner and a father of two. You can follow Matthew on Instagram at @thisismatthewruffner; visit PHPC.org to watch the church’s live stream and listen to sermons.