Hopeful Thinking

By Jen Akin

My oldest son has always been full of hope and optimism when it comes to things he wants to pursue. As a young boy, he was never afraid to ask for the free scoop at Culvers with Oreos on top – hoping the person waiting on him would bend the rules a bit.   He operates similarly now, only he hopes for things like getting his learner’s permit early.  And while I might try to reason with him, he will often combat my response to such things with, “Mom, you gotta have hope.”

He’s not wrong.    Hope isn’t always without logic or reason, but is primarily characterized by optimistic expectation and confidence.  It is what I see in my son all the time.  He practices hope with an optimistic boldness that is enviable.  And while Oreos on your frozen custard is a very temporal thing to hope for, the practice of hope is rather a holy one.  It is belief in what may be possible, even when it might seem impossible. It is fundamental to our faith.  And we are given this type of bold hope when we come to accept Christ.   C.S. Lewis once said that hope is in fact a “theological virtue” by which Christians ought to be characterized. It is what helps us to move forward in our everyday life with a sense of great purpose toward the eternal.  

As I consider hope in this first week of Advent, I think about that sense of expectation as we wait for the Christ child to be born, for the Savior to come.  That what may have seemed impossible, was becoming possible.   Because this baby was sent to our world, we have the opportunity to be redeemed and to understand that this world is temporal, while our hope is eternal.  So what does it look like to practice hope?    I don’t have great answers, but am open and seeking the Holy Spirit for direction.

And this is my prayer…

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  (Ephesians 1:17-21, NIV)