This scripture was taken from Romans Eight, 18 to 25. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us for the creation, waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God, for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own, not of its own will, but by the will of the one who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now and not only the creation, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies for in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what is seen, but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” This is the word of the Lord. Christmas season is a season of waiting, waiting with hope, waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ, waiting for a better future, waiting for a better world and waiting for the new year. We wait for all of these things with hope. So I would like to meditate on hope with you today. Hope is a good thing to have, hope makes your life brighter. Hope motivates us to move forward. Hope gives meaning to our present life and hope gives us a reason to persevere our suffering.
So hope is a wonderful thing. This is what Saint Paul said, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us”, even though in the present time there is suffering, that has no comparison with the glory that is about to come with hope. We see the glory, the sufferings we go through cannot crush us and destroy us. Why? Because we have hope. When you have hope, suffering cannot really put you down even when the suffocating darkness surrounds us. Hope gives a glimpse of light and that light will lead us. That is the light of hope. Desmond Tutu, South African bishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner said “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of darkness”, but sometimes I rather see quite often people misunderstand about hope and do not take hope as something very important. To many of them, hope is just wishful thinking. Is hope different from wishful thinking? Is it merely you’re wishing for something better? Is that what hope is? It is something nice to have but not crucial or real. People think that hope is not real concrete help.
Hope is not Wishful Thinking
It’s just an attitude. This is just like something in the air, vague, ephemeral, but it’s not concrete. It’s not concretely helping you. It’s just so vague. When people say, “I hope you get better.” They’re very kind words, I mean, it’s very nice to say that, but that’s about it, being nice, being kind, something nice to wish for. Is that all about hope? I have this dissatisfaction with the definition about hope. Hope is not just wishful thinking. It’s not just something nice to say. Hope is more than that. The hope that I find in the scripture is more than that. When you buy a lottery ticket, you wish for some good fortune. That’s wishful thinking and we all have these kind of wishes and we live with this wishful thinking. We wish that something good happens in our lives. Something good may happen in our children, something good may happen in our job. We wish that everything may work out well. We merely wished that our circumstances get better. All of this is just wishful thinking and, we all have that, but that’s just wishful thinking. Nothing more than that. Hope is not wishful thinking.
What is Hope?
Hope is to have a concrete vision for the future. That’s what hope is, hope is to have concrete vision for the future. Vision to me is not a calculated conclusion for the future, from the visible possibility of the present. Let me say that again. Vision to me is not a calculated conclusion for the future. From the visible possibility of the present, vision comes from hope even when we don’t see any possibility hope gives us this vision and we move forward with this vision, not because we see the possibility, but because the hope is good. That was what Saint Paul meant when he said, “for in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope for who hopes for what he’s seen, but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” The reason Desmond Tutu could see a light even in the darkness around him was because he had hope. Everyone thought that the apartheid system in South Africa was too strong to fight. The system was too big to defeat, but that’s when Tutu had a vision, that the systemic evil will be ultimately defeated. And so he fought for his vision, not because he saw the possibility, but because the vision was good. That is hope. People who live with hope do not merely wish for something good, they fight with a concrete vision, and in that fight the hope becomes stronger and stronger. People who live with hope are fighters.
The Hope of Salvation
Salvation, we all got it wrong. Oh, if you believe in Jesus Christ, whether conceptual, whatever, I’ll go to heaven that is wrong. Salvation is not something that is given to you like freebies just because you’re a member or once because you believe in Jesus Christ. Salvation is not a ticket to go to heaven. Salvation is possible only through faith and faith always gives us vision and the vision to change, the vision to fight and the vision to be free. If that is not, their salvation is not there. We live with hope that we will be free from the darkness of our sins that will press us and we fight every day with the vision for the freedom and ultimately will become free. If you don’t fight, you wont be free. “Oh yeah. I once believed in Jesus Christ.” That’s not good enough. If you don’t fight, you won’t be free. St Paul said in verse 23, “and not only the creation, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies groan inwardly.” What image does that give you? It is the image of struggle and fight, groan inwardly, and my friends without hope we cannot even fight without hope we don’t even struggle because you have nothing to hope for. Why do you struggle? Life is nice, comfortable, nothing to struggle for, but once you have hope, you have something to fight for. You have something to struggle for, so without hope, salvation, is not possible. That was why St Paul said in hope, we were saved, in hope we were saved people who have no vision for the redemption of the body. How can they be redeemed? We wait and fight for the redemption of our bodies even though we only see the decay of ourselves. The process of fighting for the redemption itself is a salvation. Salvation is not a freebie you get. The process of fighting for the redemption itself is the salvation and hope is the power to live our lives with vision living day by day, without purpose, merely wishing for something good is not living with hope. When we have hope. Our lives change, just because you bought a lottery ticket, does your life change? Maybe if you win it, but when we have hope, it changes us. We’ll have something to pursue. Something to hope for we will have new vision for life. Life will move forward. Not only do we have power to persevere, our sufferings and challenges, but power to overcome them.
Even now, every day I fight, when I look at myself, it’s so pathetic. That’s why I fight. Still pitiful emotions bother me. Still, there’s decay of my bodies rather than redemption. I fight. That’s why there’s still anger. There’s still hatred, there is lack of belief, doubt. I believe that life should not be in bondage, being pressed down. Whether you’re aware of it or not. I believe that life should not be in bondage. We should not let our circumstance take us as it’s captive. Doesn’t matter how you see it about your life. You may come for yourself “ahh my life is great.” Good. At one point, we just have to get up and move. I cannot live like that any longer, constantly in fear in bondage. I cannot live like that any longer. Get up and move and the hope can give us that strength to get up and move. Hope is not a guessing game about our future. Hope is a spiritual insight to see our future with the promise of God. If we have hope, our life will move towards God’s promise. When people who have hope are gathered together, then the history will move towards a brighter future.
Now we are here together. People as people, with hope, when we get together, the history will move towards a better future. This community will be able to do that. That’s why 2018 for me is exciting because you are going to make some changes. Let us live with hope. It’s not just wishful thinking. Hope is a powerful weapon. All the great people who made a dent in the universe, they lived with hope. The great people who made changes in history, they all lived with hope. Living hope, hope makes you a great person. Find that hope in your life.