Hope is what gets us out of bed every day. It is because we hope that each new day brings us life, possibilities, challenges of course, but also joy and pleasure through the people we meet, especially those we love, that we are able to go into each day looking forward to what it will bring.
Some of us are helped in this by being an upbeat, cheerful kind of person. These are great gifts of personality which can make life easier, at least on the surface of things.
However, the hope I am talking about here is not just the product of a sunny personality. Christian hope is something that still functions even when trouble brews on the horizon and our emotional prospects are not so warm and shiny.
Hope – Christian hope – is a gift of God. Both faith and hope are gifts. God enables us to believe and to trust to God’s goodness and love for us. Really, what we hope is that God is at work to bring all things to a good purpose. It may be that we cannot see how God can achieve good in a particular situation; hope trusts that despite our limited vision, God can and will bring life to whatever situation of death we may be experiencing.
Hope is wide awake about the past and the present but has an eye to the future that God wills for God’s creation. This is so, even though we human beings cause hurt to one another and to this Earth that God has entrusted to us.
Christian hope has a history. That is, both the ability to hope and what we hope for as Christians goes far back in history to Abraham and even further back to Noah. Always, God is committed to helping God’s creation flourish. Before God brought a great flood on the earth, God made a covenant with Noah and his family, to keep them alive (Gen 6:17-21). Later, God made a covenant with Abraham, promising him land, descendants and that he would be a blessing (Gen 12: 1-3; 15: 1-21). These covenants that God offered to Noah and Abraham are the deep basis of all our hope. They are promises by God to ensure life, often in situations that are strongly marked by death.
But the absolute basis for our hope is Jesus himself, in his resurrection from the dead. This act of God changes everything. It shows us God’s ultimate, loving intention – that in some way that is real for the kind of body-persons that we are, God intends to bring us beyond death to a life free from mortality, free to be in ease-full, sublime union with God’s own self.
The great US biblical scholar, Walter Brueggemann, sums up Christian hope when he writes:
“Hope in Gospel faith is not just a vague feeling that things will work out, for it is evident that things will not just work out. Rather, hope is the conviction, against a great deal of data, that God is tenacious and persistent in overcoming the deathliness of the world, that God intends peace and joy. Christians find compelling evidence, in the story of Jesus, that Jesus, with great persistence and great vulnerability, everywhere he went, turned the enmity of society toward a new possibility, turned the sadness of the world toward joy, introduced a new regime where the dead are raised, the lost are found, and the displaced are brought home again. We draw our hope from the breath-taking memory of this Jesus!”
Here, we find hints about how we keep Christian hope alive. Of course, we need to do everything we can at a practical level to make life as positive as possible. We need to take care of our bodies, our minds, our feelings and our relationships with those people central to our lives. Beyond our own immediate needs, we must care for our world, God’s creation, and work for peace and justice. In all these activities, we use the best knowledge and practices that human wisdom has learned from experience.
But when we have done all the best practices in the world, we may still find that our hearts are empty or easily troubled. This calls us to activate our Christian hope, looking each day for the small, quiet but steady evidence of God’s creative activity all around us. The resurrection of Jesus reverberates, echoes and pulses in the life of the world. As Pope Francis said,
“It is the Resurrection that gives us the greatest hope, because it opens our lives and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness.”
Associate Professor Michele Connolly RSJ is a Doctor, author and theologian at the Catholic Institute of Sydney and is a Sister of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
This article was originally published in the 2023 Season of Creation | Spring edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the digital version here.
 Walter Brueggemann, A Gospel of Hope, First edition. (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018) p. 104-105.
 Pope Francis, general audience, April 3, 2013.