Hope is not a Strategy (Or is it?)

Hope of the World sung by Plymouth Church choir

Hope is not a Strategy.

Or is it?

by Lexiann Grant

“And why should instinct nourish hopes in vain?
‘Tis nature’s prophesy that such will be,
And everything seems struggling to explain
The close sealed volume of its mystery.
Time wandering onward keeps its usual pace
As seeming anxious of eternity,
To meet that calm and find a resting place.”
— John Clare, Instinct of Hope

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. What’s the point? Informal studies show that with each passing week the number of self-promises kept declines. Not a hopeful outlook for change.

If something is worth striving for, it’s probably best to do so all the time, one day at a time, continually…at least that’s what I hope to do. As the saying goes, prepare for the worst, expect nothing, but hope for the best. 

But the great anonymous “they” of the world advise that our life plans can’t be built daily or renewed annually on hope alone.

Hope is hard to come by these days. Never ending pandemic and mutations, inflation, escalating global tensions, crime and political divisions on the home front. A mental health practitioner told me that, regardless of her patients’ diagnoses, every single one is suffering anxiety and increased stress. Several people have told me they feel hopeless, or have given up hoping for improvement in the world or their lives.

I used to have coffee mug that read, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” My cousin and Lutheran pastor, Louise Ann chose that topic for her interview for admittance into seminary, adding, “and therein lies our hope.” Because as St. Paul wrote, “For in hope we were saved.” Rom 8:4a NRSV

Christ was born to us. Christ died for us. Christ rose and Christ will come again for us we believe with hope. And while we wait, we trudge onward, we struggle, we seek small joys, we live, we help others, and we reach for hope.

Paul’s words and advice on finding hope, particularly in times of despair, sum it up best:

“For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

“…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint…”

So “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” And “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope.” Sounds like a good plan for this year. Rom 8:4b-c, 24-25; 5:3-5a; 12:2; 15:13 NRSV

Blessings for us and for the world in this new year…I hope!

For additional resources on hope as part of a life plan, see:

Hope for the New Year, (Epis. Ch. 2021)

Holding on to Hope, and a service for healing. Links to videos of a sermon by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, and, to a service in the National Cathedral.

Hope IS a strategy. Innovation consultant’s article in the Harvard Business Review.

Hope may not be a strategy, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be part of yours Article in Forbes Magazine by Bryce Hoffman.

This Strange Invention Called Hope. Washington Post, personal experience story by a cancer patient.

Lexiann Grant is a writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry.

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