This, too, is our call, whether or not we are suffering a COVID-19 pandemic or attempting to address the cruelty of bigotry and racism in our communities. We are called to hope--actively!
- Active hope brings comfort to those around it, seeking to desire God's best over self: ("Do nothing out of selfish ambition, but consider others better than yourselves" [Phil 2:3]).
- Active hope remains optimistic, regardless of the dark shadows that the Enemy tempts us to think will always remain: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
- Active hope yearns for the opportunities to listen carefully, honestly and patiently with opposing viewpoints, seeking unity above all else, knowing that the goal of the cross is to reconcile the entire world to God in Christ: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:1-3).
- Active hope keeps the end-goal in sight, knowing that sacrificing and suffering for others is what the humble race of loving ministry is all about, looking forward to the day when we will all join God in the homes in heaven the Lord has prepared for those who love him: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18).
- Active hope learns from its past but doesn't dwell on the negative of its past; instead, hope seeks to share these valuable lessons in order that others might find refuge and strength in difficult days: "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus..." (Phil. 3:13b-14).
So, perhaps Elpis, the Greek Goddess, does have something to teach us after, especially since we find so much of the ethic of Jesus in her mythical "existence". We, too, must live lives of hope, more than ever before, in order that people know that our hope is dynamic and active. We must hope that reconciliation will take place with people at war with one another over religion or politics or race; we must actively hope by listening longer, more intently, more humbly. We must listen all the way. We must actively engage one another in ways to lovingly keep one another safe during this pandemic: wearing masks, maintaining 6 feet or more of distance, and caring for those over 65 years of age alongside those with underlying health conditions. After all, God desires that we look after the widow, the orphan and the elderly. In order for us to love one another well, we must provide the healthiest environments for our most vulnerable and seek one another's best at all times. We must find hope in prayer, in Bible study, in safe outdoor meetings, in Zoom conference calls or in Facebook livestream services and in phone calls, texts and cards/letters. And we must never lose hope that God always keeps his word. For, in Christ, all the promises of God are factual and trustworthy! This means that, like the writer of Hebrews reminds us, we serve a Savior who isn't ever going to leave us alone! "For God has said: 'I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you'" (Heb. 13:5).