I’m tired of it all. Are you? The political ads are on repeat. Social media posts are divisive. People are arguing and attacking each other. Condemnation of those with opposing views is everywhere. There is so much hatred and violence in our nation. Lives have been lost. Jobs have been lost. Racism is still prevalent. Perhaps our world has settled into despair. Perhaps we have settled for the things that rob us of the good that God wants for you and me. It seems as if hope has faded. Or perhaps we have lost sight of the truest meaning of Hope.
Last week, we, the Youth Ministry Division hosted a virtual summit for youth ministry leaders. Our keynote, Mike Patin, spoke to us about Hope is a Muscle. He reminded us that hope is not optimism, but rather a virtue that needs to be exercised. And he shared with us 3 ways to grow in the virtue of Hope: Gratitude, Connecting and Remembering. For me Connecting was the one that spoke to my heart the most. Mike shared 2 directions of connecting, neither of which are focusing on the self. One is connecting inward, or toward God. We need to turn to him however we might be, with whatever emotions, feelings, joys or struggles we may have. The other direction is connecting outward, or with others. Hope requires companions. Connecting with others brings you an energy that connects you even closer to God. This connection can be as simple as a text or phone call to someone. This is a way of bringing Jesus and hope to others.
On October 29, 2013, Pope Francis, in his daily mass, reflected on the virtue of hope. He said “It is a virtue that has a name, which is Christ, and that also creates a unique tension which directs us to the revelation of Jesus and to the joy that is eternal life.” So, to have hope is not an emotion or an attitude but rather believing and knowing that God is both the object of our hope and the way to hold on to it.
So maybe what our communities need right now is for you and me to be exercising the virtue of Hope. What our communities need is for you and me to live differently. You and I need to shine light when darkness comes. You and I need to look for the good in people instead of focusing on the worst. You and I to share the love of God with everyone and learn to respect our differences. We need to work for unity when divisiveness is created. And most importantly we need to bring people to Jesus. Introduce them to the one who is both the object of our hope and the way to it.
In the next week, take action to write down ways you see God working in your life. Pray that God would put you in the path of someone where you can point them to the real hope and look for ways to bless others around you.