Finding Hope in the Holidays


is it christmas?During the season of Christmas, one of the themes commonly heard is focused on message of hope. In the last few years it seems that job losses, foreclosures, and a general direction of decline has been developing undermines the expectation that things will get any better any time soon.  As a result, we typically look to our leaders in Washington and others to whom we look to for leadership and direction to inspire some sense of hope that things will get better.  Unfortunately, the absence of hope joined with eroding confidence is intensified by  an inability by those in places of leadership to be able to instill confidence and seed the evolving shift in culture, industry, and culture with hope. Consequently, no one knows if our leaders even remotely understand what they are doing or know where the road will lead for the average person.

A question that looms beneath the problems of our times is what is the basis for hope that we can have in a world that is filled with instability, uncertainty, and unclear expectations? A good place to start is to examine how we think about life, measure success, and obtain happiness. For some people, hope is magical thinking of thinking about life dominated by wishful dreams about how  life should be.  What most of us understand is that thinking, or what we think upon, has a tremendous capacity  upon behavior, attitudes, and what we believe is possible to happen.  Some people believe intently that they cannot be happy unless life works out within expectations and person beliefs about life.  To support this,  “Hope is defined as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals and motivate oneself … thinking to use those pathways” (Snyder C.R., 2002).  As a result, hope is that the capability to construct ways to see what we want to achieve to come to pass is established in the perception those things will actually happen. Furthermore, the way that we motivate behavior to be consistent with hope is to believe that what we hope for is possible, attainable, and can be achieved.

This statement sounds closely akin to the Christian expression of faith and hope in the spiritual life. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). A way to make this practical is that having a firm trust in the character and nature of a loving, sovereign God, creates a pathway to express hope and a way to experience efficacy in life. The critical difference may be that hope that is expressed in Christianity is a spiritual reality based upon the person of Jesus Christ.  It is a belief based in a firm trust that He is the hope of the world. He is way to find redemption and salvation; he is the evidence of things not seen and the source of hope in all of life here and into the infinite future. As a result, hope is  a way of organizing thinking about the probabilities and possibilities in a life .  The significant  difference in the two approaches is that one approach is based on an infinite loving God  and the other upon finite human expressions and ways of understanding life in the way that we express life in human thinking,  ability, and perception.

In conclusion, there a way to correlate belief and resulting hope in theological terms and the experience of humanity? The answer to the question depends upon you and what frames your perception of life.  One thing that troubles me, in this the approach to hope is excesses of both approaches; one that divorces itself from God and the other that denies the process of logical processes.  If there is any message that needs to be heard today in a time which may seem that there is little hope, it is that there is hope as we can look to God as a source of hope in the direction that He provides in a relationship to Him by what Jesus did in His life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. One thought that can provide confidence in today’s challenges and propel trust into the future is that in this time of the year God can provide hope in the midst of any situation when place our trust in Him

Snyder C. R., Hope theory: rainbows in the Mind. Psychological Inquiry. (2002) vol. 13,(4), pp.249-275. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1448867

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