The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating

I live in the space between hope and disappointment.

I am a hoper. A few weeks back I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, at the very spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and it was profoundly moving. It was a place of hope, a shrine to the possibility that humankind can be amazing.

This same hope explains why I am a sucker for TV shows like Undercover Boss. I love the idea that a CEO can work alongside her employees, see the world through their eyes, and then respond with acts of generosity that leave the employees feeling valued. I am a sucker for good news stories like these, for however artificial some of the construct may be (the producers always manage to put the CEO alongside people with hard luck stories), it remains true that there is a genuine moment of connection and realised humanity. And I want as much of that as I can get. My spirit soars and my heart melts whenever I witness human beings showing compassion, kindness, love, grace, justice.

But when you’re a hoper you also get disappointed. When moments are filled with possibility for good and people choose against it, it cuts like a knife. I was filled with hope when Malcolm Turnbull became PM. He inspired me with talk of this time as one of possibilities, but then he failed to rise to the standard of his rhetoric. He could have changed the story on refugees, climate change, marriage equality, homelessness, and more, but he has simply surrendered to conservatives in his party. Hope collided with ambition and hope lost.

I see something similar in myself. Too often I have the intention of doing good only to choose the easier path.

I blame Jesus. I am prisoner to his breathtaking vision for our world; I am in inspired by his courage, generosity, grace and love; I am held breathless by the possibilities of resurrection.

But then I remember that his dearest friends abandoned him, his countrymen mocked him and in an act of cold and cynical ruthlessness Pontius pilate had him executed.

I guess this is the way of things. We can soar to dizzying heights of courage and love and plunge to shameful depths of selfish expediency.

But here is my hope. Jesus is risen. All the disappointments of history will one day surrender to hope.

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