Hope is something that we talk about often, but something that is hard to articulate. I recently read a novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, that ended with very little hope. It was a tragedy in the way that Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet are tragedies. It was a wonderful piece of art, a compelling story filled with metaphor, but one that was devoid of redemption. One particular line stands out to me in the book: "Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive. You swam a river of chance and coincidence. You clung to the happiest accidents - the rest you let float by." This line broke my heart when I read it in the book. The author, through the eyes of the teenage boy Edgar Sawtelle, assumes that life is all chance. Circumstances happen and that you have to go with the flow and cling to the good. The only problem is where is the hope?
The story that we find ourselves in the Gospel Message of Jesus is one filled with suffering and sorrow. Life does happpen. Bad things do happen. People in their thirties get cancer. Babies die before they are supposed to. But the Good News about Jesus is that history is moving somewhere. The Good News of Jesus is that he took life's best shot, took all our violence, sin, and suffering on the cross and then redeemed it. At the resurrection, Christ brought new life and continues to bring it today. So, yes, suffering is still real. But we no longer suffer devoid of hope. We have the hope that one day we will be redeemed fully into the arms of God. We have the hope that God is making all things new and that life is not a series of random happenings, but caught up in God's work to bring resurrection and new life to the world! That is a story worth living for.