Is Hope the Same as Magical Thinking?

Charme Robarts, Community Advocate and DiscipleChurch Coordinator

Since the early days of Christianity, believers have disagreed on almost every topic — on the nature of Christ, on the meaning of communion, on politics and the faith, to name a few big ones. We always have to face that our knowledge and understanding are limited because we are human.

Even when we feel comfortably confident in our beliefs, a framework of humility is needed unless we want to claim all knowledge. Humility helps us get along with believers who don’t see things like we do.

It seems clear that on the matter of hope, some Christians stand poles apart. And though it’s not particularly useful to ridicule another point of view, I have to admit I do it sometimes. All in good fun, I suppose.

But what seems most useful is to lay out my ideas and if they make sense and help others, then that’s a good thing. So, on the matter of hope — how can we have hope and still deal with reality?

I would say that first, we should not say “there’s nothing to be afraid of.” That’s insulting to the people who are afraid, and isn’t that a nuanced way of saying what magical thinkers say, for instance with “Jesus’ blood covering” the potential that they might get the virus? So, it’s not helpful to say there’s nothing to be afraid of, because that’s simply not true.

Being afraid of something does not mitigate hope. We are human and we cannot be anything else. Any number of things can bring us to fear, and in humility we know that.

And yet, hope survives and thrives alongside fear. We can have hope because of things we’ve seen in the past, things like innovation, invention, fierce determination, and of course compassion. Compassion is like high octane fuel for all of the above.

We can also have hope because we live with the realities of intellectual fire power, good strategic thinking, and wisdom. We ride around in cars with seat belts because of these things. Our present reality is witness to our reason for hope.

When hope is based in these things we can move through crisis without being paralyzed and without endangering ourselves and others. And so, we can continue to make decisions to be cautious perhaps without feeling overwhelmed.

Earlier I mentioned innovation, invention, intellectual fire power, etc., as reasons for hope. Just so you know, I think all these things are caught up in what Peter wrote to an early Christian community: each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

So yes, let’s talk about hope — we don’t have to make false promises to do so. We can base our hope in our present reality, because the virus hasn’t cancelled everything.

 


Charme Robarts
Community Advocate

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