People find hope in all sorts of places and things. As I get older, it occurs to me that much has been said about hope, yet many find it difficult to find hope. People hope in their knowledge of what ‘works’ in life, only to find out one day ‘it’ doesn’t work. They hope in their efforts and commitment, only to find out one day that ‘it’ wasn’t enough. After many failed attempts, some even hope they will find peace in drugs and alcohol, only to find that never works even in the short term. The search for hope continues.
Hope is what ‘gets us out of bed’ every day. Hope gives us the courage to keep trying, even when we have failed so many times before. Our problem isn’t that we don’t want to have hope; the problem is we keep placing our hope in something that cannot deliver in the long run. The risk is in losing hope and becoming despondent. If hope gets us out of bed, despondency keeps us in our room closed off from the world.
Today’s reading from Saint Paul doesn’t outwardly speak of hope as he does in other passages, but I was moved to make a connection today between boasting in Christ and hope. Saint Paul reminds us that the things of the world failed in delivering what the people ultimately needed. There was no security, no peace, and definitely no eternal life. It is only when we boast in Christ, or hope in Him, that these things can be realized in our life.
Brethren, consider your call, not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord." When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1st Corinthians 1.26-31, 2.1-5
I understand that it can be daunting to read this as a message of hope. Think of it this way. Sometimes to ‘get out of bed’ you need to use an alarm clock. Rather than seeing the notion of failed worldly logic as a loss of hope, consider it an alarm to wake you out of a deep sleep. When Saint Paul speaks of knowing nothing “except Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” he isn’t suggesting we stop living. Rather, Saint Paul urges us to place our faith, our hope, in the wisdom of God rather than of men and world.
We are still in the midst of the commemoration of the Holy Life-Giving Cross which was another alarm to wake us out of sleep. To know Christ crucified is to know a God Who loves more than we know how to love. Knowing Christ crucified is knowing our suffering has been shortened. Knowing Christ crucified, and then placing hope in Christ crucified, will always be enough to ‘get us out of bed’ in the morning no matter what struggle we must endure. We get out of bed, not because we think we have all the answers, but knowing Christ does.
When we hope in Christ, we finally see the world for what it is. The world is filled with people hoping to survive the best they know how. Unfortunately, many don’t yet see their way will not work not because they aren’t trying. Their way won’t work because their hope is in the wrong place and things. Their hope isn’t in Christ crucified, but in the world. The world fails every time. Only Christ is victorious.