In the early 1960s, the US was filled with anticipation of a bright future. Youthful President John F. Kennedy had introduced the New Frontier, the Peace Corps, and the task of reaching the moon. A thriving economy caused many people to expect the future to simply “let the good times roll.” Then the war in Vietnam escalated, unrest on a national level unfolded, Kennedy’s assassination took place, and a dismantling of the accepted norms of that previously optimistic society ensued. Optimism simply wasn’t enough, and in its wake, disillusionment prevailed.
Then, in 1967, theologian Jürgen Moltmann’s A Theology of Hope pointed to a clearer vision. This path was not the way of optimism but the way of hope. The two are not the same thing. Moltmann affirmed that optimism is based on the circumstances of the moment, but hope is rooted in God’s faithfulness—regardless of our situation.
What is the source of this hope? Peter wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Our faithful God has conquered death through His Son Jesus! The reality of this greatest of all victories lifts us beyond mere optimism to a strong, robust hope—every day and in every circumstance.