Do you often think about hope?
Last Thursday, I found myself in a bright red Kings coat, standing outside St Chad’s College with Katie, Nicholas and Justin, and a question board almost taller than I am (Tina, Issy and Chris had another board elsewhere in the city). Attached to the board were large, colourful letters that spelled out, unapologetically, “what brings you hope?”. As I shifted from one foot to the other, willing myself not to feel the cold, I confess the only thing giving me hope was the prospect of returning to the warm indoors in an hour’s time.
It was kind of an unexpected time of day to be thinking about such a deep question, as many people good-naturedly pointed out to us as they struggled to decide on an answer. Still, the answers came.
A little boy wrote down “family”, then leaned into a hug from his mum, her arms squeezing him tightly to her chest.
A friendly local couple wrote “the sun rising each day”, then stopped to chat about life and faith with Katie and Justin.
A young man wrote down his girlfriend’s name, eliciting a laugh from her and probably some brownie points as well.
I loved hearing these answers, because it felt like these strangers were opening up little snippets of their hearts to us. Not all the answers we heard were quite so light-hearted, though. One man, who used a walking aid, wrote “resurrection body”, then slipped away down the road to Kingsgate Bridge, leaving us wondering what his story was. Another man said that “very little” gave him hope, as he passed us without stopping.
I imagine that to some people, asking what brings them hope is nearly an offensive question – how can we expect hope in a reality full of chaos, inequality and heartbreak? As Andy said last Sunday morning in his sermon on Revelation 12 and 13, we live in a world with monsters that are terrifying and deceitful. The good news is that the story is not about human effort and ability, but about our true and living God who overcomes the darkness.
Looking at the state of the world can make us feel like we are trapped in a bitter, bleak and perpetual winter. More than just the thought of a warm house at the end of a cold day, however, Jesus is the promise that the winter will end, and spring will come again. Just like the creatures in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia waited with bated breath for Aslan to return, we wait with the knowledge that Jesus will come again. He is the eternal hope that can never be taken away from us, and the certainty of our future with Him enables us to live in the present with hope and joy.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”