I'll start by asking you to reflect for a moment on this question. If somebody were to ask you, "What are you hoping for?" what would you say? What's the big deal you're hoping for? Maybe it's at your work like some promotion or a project or a deal. Maybe it's a relationship. Maybe it's a broken one or one that you don't have. Maybe it's around health or the health of somebody you love. We're all hopers.
When we are little, we hope for parents who will love us and friends who will care about us. We hope to make the team. We hope to get into a good school and make high grades. Then, we hope to get out of school with low debt. Then, we maybe hope to get into a house. Around here, that's a big hope. Then, maybe to get married or get a spouse in that house. Then, a lot of times people will go on to hope to have children. You hope you get kids into the house. Then, once you get kids in the house, you hope you get the kids out of the house. That can be a big hope, too. You hope to get a job. Then, you hope to retire from that job. Then, what do you hope for?
It's a strange thing about us. We outgrow a lot of stuff. Nobody outgrows hope. You never get too old. Nobody cannot hope. Some eras tend to be more hope-filled than other eras. There are a lot of indications that we're actually facing a shortage of hope for all of the wealth we produce.
The Center for Disease Control noted recently we've gone through three years where the average life expectancy in the US has declined. That has not happened for more than a century, and it's not because of heart disease, and it's not because of cancer. Those deaths are down. The causes of death that are soaring are drug abuse, opioid crisis, alcohol-related deaths, and suicide, and these are being called the diseases of despair
In Western societies, both rates of marriage and birth rates are declining in spite of technology and education. Sociologists say this happens when there is a lack of hope.
What is my fallback hope? When I don't get the thing I'm really hoping for and when I realize I'm never going to get the thing I'm hoping for, what do I put my hope in? Hope in, is much deeper than hope for. Hope in is an anchor for the soul.
The most influential words ever written in the human language about hope are from Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15. He starts by summarizing the gospel, the good news you can put your hope in. "Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried... was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.... and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James..."That's Jesus' brother."...then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also..."
The resurrection then means you can put your ultimate hope in God.