Most of the people I know well are disturbed by the results of yesterday’s presidential election. Some are anxious and fearful, or grieving what they had believed could be a hopeful future. Loss is real and deep when it feels as though your race, religion, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity, physical or mental ability—your very personhood—is not valued by half of the voting public. Loss is real and deep when the values you hold so closely are disrespected.
But for people of faith, hope is never quite dead, even if it feels that way.
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. [from Isaiah 65]
The story of Isaiah is that the people to whom he wrote were indeed in mourning. None of the things hoped for had yet happened. They were far from home; their house of worship was in ruins; the holy city of Jerusalem had been destroyed.
Looking forward at such a time is the very definition of hope. Hope is not optimism. It is not, “don’t worry; be happy.” It is not platitudes of “things will look better in the morning.” It is not wishful thinking. It is the belief that something—someone—beyond us is sending us a message of comfort and the hope of something new.
This is even more important: We bring hope to others. Welcoming the stranger; serving the poor; loving those who are different from us—all these acts give hope.
Hope is intangible. And we never see its full revelation. Though Isaiah’s words to a displaced people were intended to give them hope, we have yet to see the dream of a new heaven and a new earth realized these thousands of years later. But we have glimpses of hope. And we share hope by continuing to do what we know we must do. I admit that I don’t feel very hopeful today, but I know from experience that hope can grow when we do what we must do.
Listen to someone who voted differently from the way you voted, and attempt to understand the pain or jubilation.
Continue to work for justice, show kindness, and walk in humility.
Remember that we are all wounded, and that woundedness makes us more human.
Wrap your metaphorical arms around someone who is hurting or frightened, and share hope.
When we share hope, we move alongside each other into tomorrow with hope, grace, and love.
© 2016, Melissa Bane Sevier