Day 20: Hope in the Human Experience
The Christian life is not simply about living moments of blessing and praise. If we look to Scripture, we see moments of lament or grief (John 11:35), moments of panic or exile (Psalm 137), moments of doubt and tension with God (Job 7:17-21). I tell my students all the time that this is actually an incredibly important part of the Christian life. We cannot expect to help others with their own doubts if we have never encountered our own. We cannot expect to empathize with someone in their own grief if we have never let ourselves truly feel our emotions before dismissing them.
What is so beautiful about the Christian faith, though, is that there is always a hope that lies at the heart of the Christian story. This means that we need not fear our emotions, or our place in the world, or our doubts about God’s action in the world, because if we push through them there is always hope on the other side. Hope that God is standing there in the water to catch us like Peter. Hope that one day our bodies will be made new. Hope that Christ is working all things to his glory (Colossians 1:15).
Christ offers us hope that even if we question our faith, even if we doubt that things will work out in the end, even if we feel overwhelmed by emotions like sadness or anger at events in the world today. We can rest assured that the hope of the Gospel is that God will meet us where we are if we turn our face toward him.
This will not mean quoting Bible verses on social media or sinking deeper into our Christian bubbles so as to cut out the potential for corruption by the world. It will mean, at least partially, that we learn to weep like Jesus, that we learn to question like Job, that we learn to lament like the Israelites in exile. The fact of the matter is that there is much to be wept over, much to question, and much to lament in the world today. But it is there in those moments of human experience that God offers us the hope of the Gospel. It is there that we see the beauty of the Christian story, that Christ suffers with those who are suffering and offers redemption for those who are in need.
The truly Christian imagination, what it means to be Christ-like, requires that we, like Christ, meet “the other” in their place and offer them a love grounded in hope. It is on the grounds of this hope that Jesus calls us to go out into the world, loving others because he first loved us. This week, may we empathize with someone whose place we do not share, and may we love them just like Christ, who gave up his seat in heaven to come down to us, was made flesh, and in so doing provided a hope secure enough for all eternity.
Written by Dr. Jennifer A. Craft, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Theology