In the classic holiday TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus complains to Lucy at having to memorize lines for the Christmas play. It goes something like this:
Linus: “Give me one good reason why I should memorize this.”
Lucy: “I’ll give you FIVE good reasons!” (She holds up five fingers, one by one, making a fist.) “One! Two!
Three! Four! FIVE!!”
Linus: “Those are good reasons! Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it’s getting too
Classic. I mean sure, five is good. But like Linus, sometimes we just need one good reason to keep going. Just one. And sometimes, like Job, we look high and low and still struggle to find just one.
What strength do I have, that I should continue to hope?
What is my future, that I should be patient?…
Since I cannot help myself,
the hope for success has been banished from me (Job 6:11,13).
It’s easy to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas every year. There’s a sweetness to the truths that are communicated. They remind us of all that’s good and true (plus, it’s got an awesome soundtrack). It’s not so easy to read Job’s story. And why? Well, because the truths it presents have a brutal quality to them. There are no beautiful primary colors, no awesome soundtrack in the background. No, Job’s story is stark—a very grown-up tale—and as such, it challenges more than it comforts. Job comes face to face with something called hope, and he has to choose whether or not to use it.
Paul gives the believers in Rome (and us) this working definition of hope: “Yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24–25). Yep, probably not what most of us want to hear. We want just one good reason, something we can see, something tangible, But that’s not hope.
Hope is keeping on when you’re all out of reasons. Hope is patiently groaning along with all of creation for the redemption, not only of our bodies, but of all things (v.23). Hope is not a warm, fuzzy, childish cliché, but a dogged, determined, childlike faith in the God we cannot see, who gave us His one and only Son. If you stop and think about it, that’s all reason we’ll ever need.
And that’s what hope is all about, Charlie Brown.
Written by John Blase