But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. For why would we need to hope for something we already have? So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfilment. Rom 8:24-25 (TPT)
What Is Unseen – Eager Expectation Series – Part 3
A few days ago, we said that we’ve had quite the week. So we thought we'd throw back to one our favorite series from 2015. It was a piece I wrote leading up to Christmas, and even though it was written in “2015,” I think it applies even more to 2016.
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Richard Rohr writes, “IF YOU ARE NOT trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait—you will run—or more likely you will “explain.” Not necessarily a true explanation, but any explanation is better than scary liminal space. Anything to flee from this terrible “cloud of unknowing.”
Read that alongside our text that we’ve been chatting about the last couple of days: “We who have already experienced the first fruits of the Spirit also inwardly groan as we passionately long to experience our full status as God’s sons and daughters—including our physical bodies being transformed. For this is the hope of our salvation. But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. For why would we need to hope for something we already have? So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfilment.” (Romans 8:23-25).
This Christmas season, I’ve found myself deep in thought about the state of our world, my world, my country, other countries, people's suffering and my part in it all. I have to admit that the thoughts have been heavy – anything but “merry and light.” I stood over my bed looking at the toys I’ve bought my kids wondering how I can smile through this season pretending that nothing is wrong. I don’t want to dishonour the gravity of what people are facing, what we as collected humanity are facing, by burying my head in a bunch of Christmas Carols and tinsel. But then, I don’t want to get bogged down and miss out on the joy that is before me, either.
This tension usually makes us do one of two things. 1) bury our head in the sand and pretend that everything is “all good mate.” Or 2) try and explain it away, like Richard Rohr talks about it in the quote above. But sometimes things aren’t explainable… there must be a third choice as Fr Rohr explains.
How do we engage in this life in a way that helps others, brings us joy and meaning and moves humanity forward? It can be all too easy to look at all the devastation and loss and hardship and be paralysed by it.
BUT, we have hope.
Hope is something we cannot see. If we could see it, it wouldn’t be hope, it would be a certainty. We’ve talked about this a bit before, but certainty has become a drug for us modernists. We don’t sit very well with ambiguity, the unknown and unquantifiable. Anxiety often springs from the “unknowing” of things. What will happen? How will it happen? When will it happen?
In Romans 8, Paul talks about waiting with an eager expectation; not anxiety, but a hopeful perspective. It's not as fluffy as it sounds either. Somewhere along the way we have lost the deeper meanings of trust, waiting and patience. Hope sometimes comes across as a lovely comforting notion we wrap our children up with at night time. But it’s so much more than a nice warm fuzzy feeling that puts an optimistic smile on our face when we think about the future.
Hope is gritty and gutsy. It's courageous and determined. Sometimes it's a loud shout on a mountain top or the smallest whisper through exhaustion. Hope is loving your enemies because even though there is no evidence of it, you believe they are capable of love. Hope is a prayer when there seems to be no way out and the weight of the world is too heavy to bear. Hope is the sun shining on a tiny seed planted deep within the earth, willing it to spring up and bloom into nutritious growth.
There is deep darkness in the world. No denying it. But there is also the light of hope. Sometimes these two meet and bleed into each other. And in the liminal space of unknowing, we wait. We trust. We are patient. Because we have hope.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…”
Go to Part 4 – We Can »
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