Have you ever wondered what hope looks like? The literary works by and about courageous people of color who overcame tremendous odds to trail blaze a brighter path forward for African Americans is what real hope looks like. The pages of Scripture give us hope, and point us to the source of our hope, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hope looks like Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower; Cane Hope Felder, Stoney the Road We Trod, Alex Hailey, Roots; Cornel West, Hope on a Tightrope. Hope looks like Renita Weems, Listening for God; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Journey to the well. Hope looks like Langston Hughes, Mother to Son because life ain't been no crystal stair. Hope looks like The Color Purple, Alice Walker; the color black, A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone; The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. DuBois. Hope looks like Toni Morrison, Playing the Piano in the Dark, Harriet Tubman famously trudging through the dark conducting the Underground Railroad, and Maya Angelou daring to declare, And Still I Rise! The courage of our past gives us hope for the future.
There is often confusion about what hope looks like. That is because hope, like faith and love, looks different in different situations. Because real hope relies on the goodness and faithfulness of God, it has many faces to respond fully to the different experiences of life. One such face that peers back from the past is that of Jarena Lee (1783-1850), a preaching phenon not denied in her day, delayed yes, but not denied. She traveled 2,325 miles and preached 178 sermons in one year as part of her crusade as a traveling minister. Richard Allen of the AME Church, who previously turned Lee away, changed his mind about her, believing she was called to preach by God. Lee faced many difficulties as an African American woman, but was able to inspire thousands through her preaching and published autobiography.
As believers we have one hope of our calling. With hope, followers of Jesus Christ can confidently engage the world despite the obstacles they many face. The Bible teaches us that we have a saving, living, secure, joyful, good, blessed, courageous, purifying and glorious hope!
- One Hope. Ephesians 4:3-6 states, "Make very effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all, and through all and in you all."
- A saving hope. Regarding our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies, Romans 8:24 states, "for in this hope we were saved."
- A living hope. 1 Peter 1:3 states, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...."
- A secure hope. Hebrews 6:18 states, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
- A joyful hope. Romans 5:3 states, "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." Romans 12:12 states, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
- A good hope. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 states, "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."
- A blessed hope. Titus 2:11-14 states, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good"
- A courageous hope. Hebrews 3:6 states, "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." 2 Corinthians 3:12 states, " Having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech."
- A purifying hope. 1 John 2-3 states, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
- A glorious hope. Colossians 1:27 states, "To them (the saints) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."