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Hope in the Present

God is present in your present.

It’s a popular statement. I heard it years ago though I’m not sure who first said it.: Human beings can live for 40 days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope.

Humans seek after hope like moths seek after light. It’s intrinsic to who we are. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot argues hope is so essential to our survival that it is hardwired into our brains, arguing it can be the difference between living a healthier life versus one trapped by despair.

Studies show hopeful college kids get higher GPAs and are more likely to graduate. Hopeful athletes perform better on the field, cope better with injuries, and have greater mental adjustment when situations change. In one study of the elderly, those who said they felt hopeless were more than twice as likely to die during the study follow-up period as those who were more hopeful.

It’s pretty clear: hope is powerfully catalytic, and why Dr. Shane Lopez, the psychologist who was regarded as the world’s leading researcher on hope, claimed that hope isn’t just an emotion but an essential life tool.

The Hopeless World

And maybe we perk up a little more about this topic because we live in what appears to be an increasingly hopeless world with its broken government, climate change, wars, and famines.

Not to add that our own lives aren’t free from trouble. Some find themselves in the throes of divorce. While others with children struggling with addictions or some form of rebellion. Or maybe it’s the despair that comes with chronic illness, be it physical or mental.

No matter the reason, it’s easy to get to a place where joy feels in short supply and pain ...

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Yancey Arrington is the teaching pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in Houston, Texas, and the author of the newly released Preaching That Moves People (2018). He blogs at YanceyArrington.com

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