Hope Is Not Optimism

“‘Hope’ and ‘optimism’ are not the same thing.  The optimist looks at the world and feels good about the way it’s going.  Things are looking up!  Everything is going to be all right!  But hope, at least as conceived within the Jewish and then the early Christian world, was quite different.  Hope could be, and often was, a dogged and deliberate choice when the world seemed dark.  It depended not on a feeling about the way things were or the way they were moving, but on faith, faith in the One God.  This God had made the world.  This God had called Israel to be his people.  The scriptures, not least the Psalms, had made it clear that this God could be trusted to sort things out in the end, to be true to his promises, to vindicate his people at last, even if it had to be on the other side of terrible suffering.

“‘Hope’ in this sense is not a feeling.  It is a virtue.  You have to practice is, like a difficult piece on a violin or a tricky shot at tennis.  You practice the virtue of hope through worship and prayer, through invoking the One God, through reading and reimagining the scriptural story, and through consciously holding the unknown future within the unshakable promises.”  N.T. Wright, Paul: A Biography (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2018), 45.


One thought on “Hope Is Not Optimism

  1. Armen. Hope is evidence based. Hope calls upon the character of God to do that which seems impossible based on the experience that He always has.

    In trying to keep this straight in my own mind, I replace the word “hope” with “trust.”


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