Day 10: Living in the Light of the Future

I used to think hope was all about the future, but I now realize hope looks at the present in light of the future.

Riding the bus from West Hollywood to Santa Monica, I quickly came face-to-face with the disparity of Los Angeles. My first encounter was with a beautiful middle-aged woman. Her story was that she had recently left an abusive relationship. Her predicament was that this abusive man continues to pursue her, and she didn’t know how she would be able to move on financially and emotionally. My second encounter was with a homeless man who longed for a listening ear. His story was that from a young age he was taught that he was dumb, weak and unattractive. His predicament was not knowing how to accept himself when he had been taught his whole life to be ashamed and scared. My third encounter was with a retired male prostitute. His story was that his father had physically abused him as a child so he entered the sex industry to escape his home life. His predicament was forgiving his parents and learning to have trustworthy relationships with people again. Disparity swept through every conversation, every story, and I can only guess that it swept over all LA.

Looking back at these three encounters, I realize hope is not just what we choose to believe, but rather something we live into. All these people riding the bus—for some the struggle is to get on, for others it’s to get off, and still for others it’s to stay on. Hope empowers us to do what scares us, to let go of what binds us and to forgive that which has hurt us. It does this by looking at our present darkness in light of a better future. Hope makes sure that we keep living life remembering that we are not stuck. Our hope in Christ keeps us focused on the promises, on the Word and on the Spirit of God.

I’m not sure how, but each conversation came back to Jesus, and I can’t say for sure how things are going for the three people I met, but I can tell you that those conversations ended in hope. Each uncomfortable, heavy-hearted conversation changed the person’s focus because hope came rushing into their present darkness, and I wonder what happened to the people who eavesdropped in as we both pressed into the hope of Jesus. By abiding in the hope we have in Christ, we become living testimonies to the world that what is to come is also here; that Jesus can bring hope to every troubling story and that where we are in our story is neither the end nor unredeemable. Jesus wants us to know that we can face our fears, love our enemies and forgive the unforgivable because He lives and His work isn’t finished!

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 NIV

Written by Abigail Contreras, Senior Biblical Studies and Preaching Major