Hope is essential to a life of bridge building. But when your life has felt the perpetual sting of injustice, when your eyes have been opened to the realities of oppression, when your soul feels crushed by the heaviness and heartache that surround, hope is hard fought.
In the third chapter of Lamentations in the Bible, Jeremiah uses an acrostic poem, going through the Hebrew alphabet with each stanza, to emphasize the trials he has endured. He begins by stating, “I am the man that has seen affliction.” But as he recounts his afflictions and remembers the bitterness of them all, we get to verse 21 where his tone changes with an important conjunction:
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.”
Even in all of his very valid and necessary lament, he has hope because he remembers God’s great love. But another important aspect of this passage to note is that the tone doesn’t just change, but the pronouns do as well. Jeremiah begins his poetic lament focused on himself. But it switches in verse 22:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
Jeremiah endures, but they are not consumed. Lament and hope are both personal and collective. We have a connected flourishing, a connected freedom, a connected hope.
The truth of hope is that it doesn’t happen without suffering and without lament. Romans 5:1-5 proclaims that persevering through suffering produces endurance, building endurance results in proven character, and that tested character results in hope:
“And hope does not put us to shame.”
Hope is worth fighting for; hope will not disappoint us. Because ultimately, hope grounded in truth empowers us to press on, to live in the Spirit, and to remember God is with us. Hope has come. Hope remains. Hope will see us through.
We begin Advent with this declaration that in the midst of the heaviness and the weariness, the partiality and the hostility, there is hope. We are all connected. We do not walk alone.