Confession: I am an optimist. I feel stronger when I’m positive.
When asked what kind of animal best defines my personality, I answer…Golden Retriever. The glass is always half full. And in college, I was dubbed “sunshine” for my best-case-scenario outlooks that matched my abnormally blonde mane and glowing complexion.
But I’m also a product of my generation. One in a sea of Millennial can-doers that are concerned about the rise of global inequality – but confident to effect positive change. I state my “sun will come up tomorrow” credentials to admit that I am self-aware enough to know of my natural tendencies.
This is important because… I support the proliferation of hope.
Hope (Noun): the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
In the relatively recent past, the world has seen the miraculous feats of space travel, the elimination of many diseases, and unprecedented technological advancement. And while there have also been a fair share of doubt-inducing atrocities, I see no reason to think there will not be many more incredibly positive feats within my lifetime!
Recently, the space craft Voyager became the first man-made object to leave our solar system. A little closer to home, there has been incredible progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. What seemed like a far-fetched goal only 15 years ago is now becoming a reality. The seemingly impossible made possible.
While there will always be reasons to temper our excitement, the current generation of global citizens have innumerable reasons to have hope. But possessing hope (in it’s noun form) is only the beginning of what God is calling us to. It’s the gentle preface for greater opportunities.
Hope (Verb): to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
In Mark 9, Jesus was confronted with a sick and convulsing child. When the father asked Jesus if he could heal the boy he responded, “ ‘I can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23). The father of the child then immediately proclaimed, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
While the story is typically referenced to promote a faith in Christ, I believe there is additional meaning. I think God uses this passage to show what He can do when we actively hope. In this case, hope is used as a verb.
Now, I’m no grammar snob, but I do understand the difference between a noun and a verb. To hope (as a verb), means that we are actively seeking that which is not yet at hand. It is a present mindset that compels us to make decisions that will help bring about the hoped-for reality.
When I reflect on the monumental feats of history, I find that there always seems to be at least one person with undeniable hope guiding the effort. But more than just having hope (noun), they also actively hope (verb). And when hope is actively applied, it garners inspiration. With inspiration, “all things are possible.”
So why do I care? Why the Jesus parable and the grammar lesson? Because there are a few things that I am passionately hopeful for! And I want others to be hopeful, too.
I know that if we truly want to see the most vulnerable lifted from poverty, we need to have a healthy dose of hope in our worldview. If we want to rid the world of injustice, we must believe that the arc of the moral world “bends toward Justice.” (Preach it Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!) If we want to see poor children thrive, we need to influence whole communities to hope for a new reality.
When Food for the Hungry (FH) founder Larry Ward began this ministry, it was a small operation helping refugees in Southeast Asia. Returning from a trip to a refugee camp, a reporter asked him why he even bothered to solve the immense problems of poverty and hunger? His response was simple, yet incredibly profound:
“They die one at a time, so we will help them one at a time.”
FH is an organization that is founded upon hope. We have hope that God is with us as we “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). And we hope to inspire hope in others so that together we can end poverty.
I choose to hope because it is strategic. Because it is what God calls us to do. It is a logical decision as well as an emotional one. And I hope others will see it that way, too.