I don’t recall exactly what it was about. During parent teacher conferences, I spoke with a parent and it was either about the grade, the student’s faith, or something, but whatever it was, the parent ended with, “So there’s hope?” And I, filled with a conviction that stretched beyond the moment, replied, “Yes. There is always hope.”
I felt the weight of that truth in the moment after the parent left.
Always. Hope endures despite all difficulties.
For someone who often skews toward pessimism, it is helpful to remember that hope persists, even when it seems illogical. I mean, we worship a God who rose from the dead after three days. He chose the most unlikely people to pass on the faith, who continually misunderstood Jesus and ran away when scared. Yet this Church still lasts. In spite of corrupt popes, Church scandals, intense persecutions, harsh dictatorships, and every other difficulty, we see that life can still burst forth from death just as the frozen ground will one day again yield to the gentle strength of new flowers.
The other day in class, I found myself saying, “Death isn’t the worst thing.” For me, it was obvious that this was true. I spent much of my first year of teaching hoping for death. Not in a morbid or depressed way. Rather, I was thoroughly convinced of the glory of the Beatific Vision and I was also thoroughly convinced that I wasn’t yet experiencing it in a room filled with angsty, complaint-filled teens.
However, for my students, this was a startling statement. To them, death was the worst thing they could imagine because it was the end of everything they know. And in a world or worldview without the prospect of life after death, the end of life would seem pretty hopeless. But when God conquered death itself, we can rest in the knowledge that nothing is too much for God to overcome.
Over and over, the Old Testament reminds the Israelites that God has provided for them in the past and will continue to provide for them. They are called to remember that God brought them out of Egypt and if He can do that, He can also handle whatever problem they are currently facing. This Lord fought for them, what have they to fear? And He provided food in the desert and gave them a land to call their own. Scripture repeatedly calls us to remember how God provides for His children. By doing so, it invites us to hope that He will do it again in some new way.
Scripture outlines the generous providence of God, but we can do the same thing in our own lives. When I have time, I love to flip through old journals and see what I was praying for then and reflect on how God has answered prayers. Or to recall experiences I have had in prayer and how God can again show up in rich, beautiful ways. Bringing to mind past moments of grace reminds me to hope that more graces are being offered in this moment, too.
So in the midst of a world short of hope, I encourage you to be hopeful, friends. In the most dismal situations with the bleakest of outlooks, remember how God has worked in the past and have hope that He will again work in new ways in the future. In fact, He is laboring right now to bring about something new for us.
In every situation, there is hope.
Perhaps things won’t turn out the way we desire, but there is a God who brings abundant goodness from every evil. Trust that the God who brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, without them raising an arm in battle, will fight your battles for you, too.
Let us have hope and trust in the loving providence of the Father.