“Hope and history are always light-years apart.” – Huston Smith, The World’s Religions
If ever a sentence exuded hopelessness, it is this one from Smith’s classic book on humanity’s major faiths.
This is where we are left with most of the world’s religions. History is an acid that eats away at hope.
The very moment history and hope attempt to interact, hope is drowned out by cares and concerns. Fears and failures. Disappointments and death.
Hope doesn’t belong on the streets of History, where we live. Bad stuff goes on here. This is where children are neglected and abandoned. Women are abused and exploited. Men are trampled and disregarded.
“Stay back, Hope,” we say. “You don’t want to see this. You won’t be able to handle the mess we’ve made on this side of town.”
We know Hope can’t be here. We’re sure History is the opposite of Hope, the anti-Hope.
|Photo from RGBstock.com by Mike Tamasila|
When divinity took on humanity, all of that changes. God comes into time. Hope invades history.
“While we were yet sinners,” Paul writes, “Christ died for us.” But first, He was born for us and in the midst of us.
He became Immanuel––God with us. Not God of a distant Hope, but God of a present Hope.
History is where all of the bad stuff happens, but in Christ, Hope came anyway. In the Incarnation, Hope and History meet.
Hope walks the streets,
feeds the hungry,
heals the sick,
comforts the hurting,
raises the dead,
confounds the wise,
challenges the religious,
confronts the arrogant,
afflicts the comfortable,
suffers the lashes,
endures the thorns,
takes the scorn,
bears the cross,
and conquers the grave.
Hope is unchanged, but History is never the same.
History, in essence, starts again. Time itself is reordered because of the Incarnation. Because Hope met History.
The shocking truth of the matter is that History was made for Hope. Unbeknownst to us, History was building to a crescendo, waiting for the moment of Hope’s arrival.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Things can never be the same because of the Incarnation. Hope is here.