I am a person shaped by stories.
Reading has been my primary form of consumption, but like most people, I also have several favorite stories that came to me on film. My dad raised me to be a Star Wars fan. Now, I have married a man who is even more passionate about these stories.
We prefer the classic, older movies, but there is one of the more recent movies that I found to be a compelling and beautiful story. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story even had some great nuggets of truth tucked into it. With a bittersweet end to the movie, there was one thing left: Hope.
After all, “rebellions are built on hope.”
I need hope in my life, to believe that the best is yet to come; That we can tell a better story. There is power in hope. I believe this. Hope proves to be a greater force for change than the power of anger, hatred, war, political endeavor or suffering.
As someone who has anxiety and far too easily sees the negative in the world, it is so important for me to hold on to any thread of hope I can find. I have been to the dark place of hopelessness. I don’t want to go back there. I know it is real.
In hope, I look to Jesus. I don’t know where else to look for it. The wood-working man from Galilee, who was also God’s greatest self- revelation to this world gives me hope. God made so many statements in Jesus about himself, about us, and about this world.
On the cross, God said that he would rather suffer and die than live without us.
In Jesus, we have a glimpse of the kingdom of God. He established it with his teaching and presence here on earth as a human who was also God. Jesus displayed the power and love of God on the cross, declaring that violence and destruction and sin had had too much power over those he loved enough to die for. He secured this upside-down Kingdom’s final victory in the resurrection.
God’s Kingdom is here. It has already won.
And yet. Even those of us who have embraced this marvelous truth still struggle with darkness. With fear.
Satan is still playing his game. He knows he has lost but wants to make sure the end of the game stings just a little bit. So Satan lies, he tempts us to hopelessness. And when we look around at the world, yes, it can look dismal. There is violence, conflict, injustice. We need to grieve this. We can be angry but we can’t stay there. We need to move. We are the light of the world, so we need to be the beacon of hope that the world so desperately needs.
We start by embracing hope ourselves. In this world, hope really is a rebellious act. Hope is resistance to the principalities and powers that would love to see those who love and follow Jesus paralyzed by anger, guilt, fear or apathy.
Hope is not just a nice idea that we embrace in private. No. Hope breeds action.
So here is my declaration of HOPE:
Jesus has already won. He will win. This victory is not won from militaristic might or violence but by winning the hearts and minds of human beings from our own willful rebellion. That rebellious tendency in all of us can be redeemed to a rebellion against hopelessness.
Jesus will come again and set things fully right. In the meantime, Jesus calls us to kingdom-building work. Good work. The rebellious work of shining a light and declaring to a world tempted to hopelessness, that there is hope.