Hope is always paradoxical. It offers tender comfort and stirs restless protest. It embraces those who suffer and insists that suffering will not have the last word. Theologian Jurgen Moltmann said that: “Hope finds in Christ not only a consolation in suffering, but also the promise of the divine protest against suffering” (Theology of Hope, p. 21).
I think, in fact, that there is no consolation in suffering apart from such a divine protest against it. Only when we know that God does not actively will our pain is it possible for us to trust God with it.
In Jesus, God identifies with our pain, so hope comes in the form of comfort. It touches us with mercy. Jesus also shows us that God means to transform our pain, so hope comes in the form of protest. It makes us believe in the possibility of justice.
Hope comes from God’s compassion for our wounds and from God’s resolve to end the conditions which wound us. It comes from the confidence God is with us and for us. God is our companion and our advocate—our friend and our liberator.
As people of hope, we visit the elderly in the nursing homes, hold their hands, hear their stories, and take the community to them in the form of news and Communion. We offer them the assurance that they are not alone and forgotten. We ought also to protest against the cult of youth which demeans the humanity of all who are scarred, wrinkled, limited, and burdensome. We lament their marginalization, grieve the loss of their wisdom, and work for a culture that respects their dignity.
We run soup kitchens, but we ought also to work for an end to hunger.
We tutor at-risk city kids, but we ought also to work for better schools, more stable families, and safer neighborhoods.
We counsel the family which is cracking under pressure, and we also question the consumerism and materialism which intensify the pressure they feel.
Our mission of hope is to show mercy and seek justice–to hold and heal the broken and to pray and work for a world where the breaking does not happen.