Hope' is the thing with feathers--
That perches in the soul--
And sings the tune without the words--
And never stops—at all--
And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard--
And sore must be the storm--
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm--
I've heard it in the chilliest land--
And on the strangest Sea--
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
- Emily Dickinson
Hope has been the driving force behind change throughout time. Great speeches such as "We Shall Fight On The Beaches" by Winston Churchill, "Inauguration Address" by John F. Kennedy, and the "I Have A Dream" by Martin Luther King Jr. stirred hope in people. Hope for a new life, hope for a changing world, and hope for a different tomorrow.
When we hope our hearts cry out with an unspeakable desire for positivity in the world that is yet to come. Hope is about the anticipation and preparation for that world. So let's look deeper at hope: the motivation of hope; the complex relationship between faith and hope; and Jesus' role in hope.
The Motivation of Hope
In 1991, Professor C.R Snyder developed was is now known as Hope Theory. Dr. Snyder defines hope as “a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals)”. When we have motivation and various strategies/ pathways to achieve it than we move forward. Hope is not wishful thinking but a predictive outcome and a cognitive system in which new plans are created despite barriers/ challenges that come.
A study in 2010 by Liz Day found hope being a better predictor of objective academic achievement over intelligence, personality, and past academic achievement.
Another study in 2012 by Martin, Rand, and Shea found hope was a greater predictor for success among 1st year law students rather than LSAT scores or undergraduate grades.
Hope vs. Faith
Hope has been intertwined with faith for many years. You may be someone that is questioning your faith or not certain of what you believe. Despite your current faith hope gives us an opportunity to explore and engage in communities, practices or different ways of life. The website Hope and Optimism shares a great 4 minute video describing the in depth connection between hope and faith. It speaks to the importance of hope even if we do not have evidence or certainty of faith. Please take the time to watch it by clicking on the above website.
The Hope of Jesus
So what does hope have to do with Jesus? The first week of Advent (Dec. 2nd) is focused on the virtue of Hope. Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. In the liturgical calendar Advent is all about the arrival of Jesus. Jesus escorted in a new way of living that turned the world upside down. Advent not only prepares us for his birth but reminds us of the expectation and promise we have that God is working with us every moment, every hour, every day. The hope of Jesus is not just the hope beyond this life but the hope that this world is moving toward the obtainable goal of justice and peace. That our communities uphold the rights and beliefs of one another and affirm them with a loud shout saying "You are worthy." You see the hope of Jesus this Christmas season moves in you. Allow it to flow in your actions and words as you proclaim your hope for humanity.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
- Romans 15:13
Let's end with the Irish traditional folk song "Canticle of the Turning" by Rory Cooney. It speaks of the hope we hold dearly this Advent season.
May Hope flood your heart this week. Let the hope of a new spiritual journey drive you forward this Advent season. Follow along next week as we explore the virtue of Peace.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.