The Absurdity of Hope


Hope is absurd… And that’s a good thing.

There is a lot to admire about the Old Testament prophets. Among those attributes is the capacity for thick hope. They were not optimistic, as that would be thin hope that the universe is an unbalanced equation that will right itself. The prophets had a catastrophic hope. They knew about entropy before the physicists. They knew that injustice, greed, fear, shame and power would corrupt each and every human institution. It was a matter of time. And for most prophets, it was a matter of a little time. For some of the prophets, the time had already come in which the corruption of God’s people reached critical mass and exile was required to protect the world from the people of God.

The prophets held out a belief that God would miraculously and personally right the universe. They knew that God’s people would once again provide for the flourishing of the cosmos, as intended in Genesis 2. They didn’t know much about when this would occur, or even how it would occur, but they knew it would.

That makes hope absurd.

Hope has no timeline, no precision. Hope is based on the revealed character of God and little else. Catastrophic hope is both realistic and unrealistic at the same time, paradox in action. And yet, hope is very much about the present as well as the future. Hope, as one of the three virtues of Christ (faith and love rounding up the trifecta), grounds Christian witness. Hope dares to imagine the future, faith dares further to live the future. What else is Christian morality but living into a future that doesn’t exist? What else is peacemaking but eschewing a cynical future of violence and embracing a future which seems absurd? What else is living justly than saying “One day God will make all things right, but why not today?”

I have my bouts with cynicism, no question about that. But I would prefer be absurd and grasp onto catastrophic hope, hope that lives in dissonance with reality and idealism at the same time, hope that is based on the revealed character of God and little else, hope that says “Why not today?” Pray join me in the absurdity of hope.


3 thoughts on “The Absurdity of Hope

  1. You are exactly right, and it is completely absurd . . . and yet, somehow, the sanest thing we can do. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. For me hope from God was a byproduct of a healthy faith in God. Once the faith started fraying the hope went away. And that made the faith go away that much quicker.

  3. Hope is my lifeblood. I don’t know what I’d do without hope. For me, it’s crazier to be without hope than with it. Or at least, I’d be crazy without it.

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