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Against Hope

February 22, 2021

Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations,’ according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.'” Romans 4:18

Only 38 days until Opening Day! The snow has me in a baseball state of mind, dreaming of long summer days. But it was this verse from Romans, which we’ll hear on Sunday, that brought baseball to mind. Hoping against hope is such an interesting phrase. It’s hope against the longest of odds. That’s what baseball is, of course. Six months of games followed by the playoffs, by the end of which 29 teams will have lost. The odds are long from the start, which makes winning all the more sweet.

This is why I’ll always remember October 12, 2015. The Kansas City Royals, having lost a heartbreaker of a World Series the year before, were on the brink of elimination in the Division Series. Houston took a 6-2 lead into the eighth inning against a KC squad that couldn’t get anything going. Hoping against hope, I kept watching. Overcoming the hopes of Houston, KC rallied for a 9-6 win, took the next game, and wouldn’t stop until winning they were World Series champs (on what happened to be All Saints’ Day).

The Royals, as my kids like to point out, are back to their losing ways. So it goes. I’ll take a World Series victory every 30 years. Mark down the Royals for 2045!

Life is not baseball, of course, but sports provide powerful metaphors. The learning is often in the losing more than the winning. Life stacks up against us, compounded by our own sin. What hope do we have of finding mercy and grace? No better hope than Abraham becoming the father of many nations. And yet, by the grace of God, that’s exactly what Abraham became. He believed God’s Word. Not because it was reasonable or had any rational hope of coming true, but because it was God who had spoken.

Our hopes will not always be fulfilled. Our teams won’t always win. Time and again, things will fall apart. We have no hope on our own. But, hoping against hope, we cling to Christ. Keep the faith, friends, even in the losing. And remember, for God the opposite of losing usually isn’t winning; it’s finding. Keep the faith. You might not win, but you will be found. God will keep God’s promises.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, you speak and the Kingdom of grace comes into being. Open our ears to hear the Word of Christ. Give us hearts of hope. Help us to help those who are in need of hope today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The 2015 Word Series Champion Royals. Photo by Arturo Pardavila III (used with permission).

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