Most of us look on the word “hope” as referring to a feeling that somehow things will turn out happily. (I hope it’s sunny for the picnic. I hope the Indians win the World Series. I hope I don’t get sick.)
This common kind of “wishing” has nothing to do with Christian Hope. These “hopes” serve more as a barometer of what my bodily wants are at this particular moment. I hope for what I want.
Christian hope is different. It is an expectation that our life here on earth is for some purpose. And that purpose, though we can’t see it yet, will somehow be realized. What makes it a different kind of hope is that it is given to us by God. It’s not something humans could ever have thought up. It’s beyond any reasonable human expectation. It comes from God who had this in mind when he made us.
So where does this hope come from? It comes from the love of God revealed in the death of Christ for us. “This hope does not disappoint, for the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us . . . now justified by his blood . . . will we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:1-5,8
Jesus, according to St. Paul, has unlocked a door to God we never knew existed. “Through Christ we have gained access to this grace (God’s love) in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.” Vs. 2
Why is our hope a certainty? Because it’s based on the love of God “poured out” into us. The promised hope all hangs on Jesus’s death on the cross. It is there God, if you will, proves his love for us. Darkness and evil did their worse on Jesus. They killed him. But (and here’s our hope), Jesus was raised from the dead.
So how do we give this hope to our children?
** First of all GOD wants to give it to them! The Holy Spirit is constantly “poured out” on them in moments of happiness, challenge, goodness, sorrow etc. Trust that. Tell your children, “Watch for God today, he’s going to whisper to you.”
** Parents/Grandparents – you are the biggest giver of hope to your children. How you live on a weekly basis, the hope you exhibit in your conversation, your positive response to society’s problems, your prayers at dinner and before bed . . . . all are moments your children watch to see if you have hope.
** Share your burdens as an adult (in an appropriate way of course). Ask for their prayers about a particular intention. This gets the children involved in real faith situations. Plus they want to “help” mom and dad.
** Don’t shy away from hard situations involving suffering. Someone you all know is sick. Pray for them. Someone has died. The older children might go to the wake with you (you decide when they are ready). Let them know that Jesus himself died so we didn’t have to be afraid – – – because we are going to God.
** Maybe you have to do a little work on yourself. Perhaps you need to ask God to help you with those human situations that cause you fear or worry.
** In all things just know that God has given you your children just as they are. He will help you teach them the way of hope. Don’t be afraid.
Lastly hear the words of St. Paul as he was held in prison, facing death for witnessing to Jesus Christ.
“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or . . . peril or the sword? . . . For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor powers, nor present things, nor future things, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
What makes us so sure? Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!