The recent Olympics and Paralympics have been so impressive and the sight of British athletes from all disciplines and abilities achieving unprecedented success is something as a nation we have become unaccustomed to.
The optimistic mood of the nation has been such during the summer games that now they have finished people have talked about a gargantuan slump or crash maybe 10 times more significant than when January dampens the mood of a nation after Christmas. As a sports fan I find it hard to be optimistic, always expecting the last minute equaliser (when winning) or to lose on the home straight. I don’t know why I’m not optimistic for in sport but it’s partly about supporting Brighton as a child and 11 years as Man City fan since living here, being British and being born after 1966.
Fortunately for me, being optimistic and being hopeful are two very different things though.
Miroslav Volf (A Public Faith) has a helpful gem where he explains about the difference between optimism and hope.
“(on Optimism) We survey the past and the present, extrapolate about what it likely to happen in the future, and, if the prospects are good, become optimistic.
Hope, on the other hand, has to do with good things in the future that come to us from “outside,” from God; the future associated with hope – Moltmann calls it adventus – is a gift of something new”
I’ve become excited beyond sport this summer in that the new thing that God can do from bringing a son to Sarah who was barren in Genesis, the Resurrection, or basically God doing what is not probable but is in human experience impossible. That “expectation of good things that come as a gift from God – that is hope”.
Maybe this summer has given me enough experiences (perhaps) to be a bit more optimistic in sport (We can discuss further if Aguero’s last gasp goal is of God but I may be on shaky theology there) but far more significant is something fundamental and that is a deep rooted hope in the “New Thing” that God can do. A fool can be optimistic and disproved by experience but hope in a God of love is far more sustainable and far less likely to crash in a heap when the good times finish.
So Lord, make me more hopeful and teach me the difference between Hope and Optimism.