The (sometimes) Confusing Life of a 2018 Optimist
It’s summertime and I am a Chicago Cubs fan. Let’s get that out in the open. Until 2016, we Cubs fans spent generations passionately believing that THIS would be the year, only to be dealt a harsh dose of reality time and again. But when the calendar would turn to April and a new season was upon us, we felt just as confidently as a Yankees fan that our boys would still be playing in October. Yes, our hearts had been broken – 1945, 1969, 1989, 2003, etc., etc. But yet, as the snow melted and the trees began to bud, there we were, ready, once again, to believe. I must admit, it wasn’t a belief rooted in big data, history, or frankly, anything tangible.
As our beloved Boys of Summer currently occupy first place and hope is flowing through all who proclaim allegiance to the Cubs, we are also experiencing a summer of unconscionable violence here in Chicago. No doubt, even if you live in other parts of the United States, you’ve heard of the horrible reports of dozens of people shot over the course of a single weekend. Two weeks ago, 74 people were wounded in just a 72-hour period. In parts of Chicago, we are in the midst of some of the worst violent crime we’ve ever seen.
The optimism that we find in far more trivial observations like baseball does not seem to dwell in our hearts as we consider the conditions influencing our neighborhoods and communities. Is the problem too big? Do the solutions require too much of us? Are the resources too scarce? Where is the hope that we should feel as a community of faith that should guide our spirit and our actions?
At a recent staff devotion, our We Raise team was reminded why we should work and live in a state of hopeful optimism. This is not merely “wishful,” but rather a hope-filled belief that the work we are called to do will produce a God-pleasing outcome.
In Hebrews 6, Paul encourages us to “… take hold of this hope set before us, so that we may be greatly encouraged …” Our hope is anchored in the gift of Jesus, a gift that frees us to vigorously work to alleviate the suffering of poverty, violence, and inequality. There is reason to believe that our work will be blessed, that success can be achieved, that people and communities can be transformed. If we remain firmly secure in that hope, together we will put grace into action.
I remain grateful for all you do for others through We Raise. And, of course, Go Cubs Go!
Paul C. Miles