hope and disappointment

I had a difficult start to my week. Why? Because I am a Packers fan. And the Packers lost on Sunday night.

I don’t know if you are a football fan. If not, you might not understand just how disappointing this was to me. The Packers were 15-1 for the season. There were high hopes of a Super Bowl appearance this year. THIS YEAR, the year I am living in Indianapolis, where the Super Bowl will be.

I’m not sure I have wanted a win as badly as I wanted the win this past Sunday. Which is what made the loss all the more difficult to bear.

Sports are full of wins and losses. And it seems that just as “the thrill of victory” tastes sweeter to the underdog who wasn’t supposed to win, “the agony of defeat” stings harder against those who were favored.

Sports can reflect a lot about human nature.

Low expectations are safe. When losses happen, they roll off our back, because we knew it would be that way anyway. When wins happen, they come to us as sweet surprises. High expectations are dangerous. When wins happen, we sigh with relief. When losses happen, they come to us as bitter surprises.

Crushed hopes hurt. They make us wonder if it is worth hoping at all. We fear being disappointed again.

Life with God is a story of hope. A hope that life can be more. Hope of forgiveness. Hope of reconciliation. Hope of love. Hope of an eternal relationship with God.

Yet, sometimes, doubts rise up. What if, when we get to the end of this life, we find out we were wrong? What if God isn’t really there? What if our hopes are dashed?

I think fear of crushed hope keeps many people from following God. But, Romans 5:1-5 tells us we don’t have to be afraid,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope in God will not disappoint us. That does not mean we will not have trouble in this life. In fact, these verses tell us we will. But, we can see that trouble through an eternal perspective. Trouble does not indicate that our hope is in the wrong place.

But still, how do we know? How do we know God is real? How do we know there really is an eternity to look forward to?

Because unlike football, life is not a game. A sudden injury, bad call, or dropped pass will not destroy our hope. God has given us a guarantee. He does not just say, “wait until the end, and you will be with me.” He gives us His presence now. He gives us His Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not just our conscience. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of hope. 

We don’t have to wait to find out if we have peace with God. Our hope is fulfilled the moment we believe in Jesus. The moment we seek forgiveness through Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. Our hope is alive and real.

* Photo Credit: Phil Roeder, flickr.com