Over the past few weeks, especially as Christmas draws near, I have given a lot of thought to the difference between optimism and hope.
For me, optimism is quite different to hope – it is the innate conviction that most things and situations are better than they actually are. Many western people hold fast to the belief that as humans we can make things better than they are at the present time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is not reality. It is quite simply not in our power and effort alone to make the world a better place!
Hope is something completely different to optimism! It is the innate belief that God is in control and that He can fix a broken world. Hope focuses on God whereas optimism focuses on humans.
Optimism looks far more realistic and achievable because we put our faith in human effort. We can work hard and see our efforts produce results. Hope looks utterly ridiculous because we place our trust in the eternal and unseen God.
Sometimes as we sit in the cold and the darkness of this broken world and our chaotic lives we quietly wait for hope to shine through. We glimpse our world and wonder if our hope is entirely misplaced. But over two thousand years ago, a baby was born in a manager – born of a virgin. He remained sinless throughout His short time on earth and ultimately gave His life for the human race. That tiny babe, is the sole reason for my hope.
Hebrews chapter 11 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Let me share a few thoughts with you as we count down the days to Christmas in this Advent season.
· We cannot live without hope: Yes, we can survive days without water and food, but in all honesty as human beings we cannot survive long without hope.
· Hope is not built on facts: No, hope is never based on facts. If that were the case we would be bereft. Hope is the certain belief that God is in control and we can put our hope in Him.
· Jesus is the author of hope: Optimism is not hope. The source of our hope is faith in Jesus – the babe born in a manger two thousand years ago. He is the hope of the world!
· Hope can thrive even in darkness: Even in the darkest times hope can still prevail.
I remember reading a wonderful story some years ago. A sniper was scouring out an area just after WW11. He was in a tumbled down farmhouse that was derelict and in ruin. As he scouted around, he came across a wall with some writing etched into it. He slowly read the words that had been carefully inscribed into that wall – this is what they said: “I believe in the sun even when it does not shine, I believe in love even when it is not shown, I believe in God even when He does not speak.” That sounds like hope to me. The man was a prisoner, but he was a prisoner of hope.
Christmas is about hope! Hope for your family, for your circumstances, for your health, for your finances, for your personal life – hope can filter through every aspect of your daily life if you will open your heart to the Giver of hope.
My prayer is that this Advent season will find your heart filled with hope - not mere optimism for the future - but hope for a better tomorrow. The hope that came to earth two thousand years ago – the hope of the world – Jesus!
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,