The science and theology of hope

Hope, faith, prayer, #holymischief

Hope is the path we take in aligning our will with God’s

In Wesley’s sermon #83 “On Patience”, he states:

“Whereas in that moment when we are justified freely by his grace, when we are accepted through the Beloved, we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit. And there is as great a change wrought in our souls when we are born of the Spirit, as was wrought in our bodies when we are born of a woman. There is, in that hour, a general change from inward sinfulness, to inward holiness. The love of the creature is changed to the love of the Creator; the love of the world into the love of God.”


Hope arises out of our brokenness. The grace of God does not leave us broken but transforms us into a new creation! We cannot do this alone. We need God's transforming power to work in us and with us. Our hearts, though broken by the brokenness in this world, can have hope that the brokenness of this world can be transformed into something beautiful. Death is not the end. Brokenness is not a final state either. Our brokenness is not so much mended as it is transformed.


Romans 12:2  (NRSV): "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect."


A friend asked me to write about the science of hope. I was fascinated by the idea but didn’t realize how much I needed it until I started researching it. There is a science to hope. It falls into the genre of positive psychology. And here’s the good news: hope is a choice.


We’ve all felt grief from the pandemic. We feel the tension. The pathways we once took to build the kingdom aren’t necessarily the ones we need to take moving forward. It is often enough to infect us with ministry paralysis. 


Chan Hellman is the leading researcher on the science of hope. “Hope is not a wish,” Hellman says. “Hope is about taking action to achieve goals. A wish is having a goal that we desire, but we don’t have any control or strategies to achieve it.


“It’s strategic planning. It’s setting goals. It’s identifying how to get there from here, and how to motivate people do to that work. That’s the essence of hope.”


His basic framework is this:

  • Set goals
  • Define pathways to the goals
  • Strengthen your will power


His research shows that the biggest barrier to hope is unmitigated trauma (the pandemic would count) and secondary traumatic stress (which is why pastors really need a way to heal from their stress right now). All of that leads to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and insecure attachment styles.


There is so much more to this than I could put in one blog. We’ve got a lot of healing to do. But we must choose hope as we heal. It will not only heal us; it will spread to others.


Theologically, hope is when we align our will with God’s will. We don’t always know how that journey will turn out but we set the goal to make this world better and recalibrate our plans accordingly.

As we choose hope, let us renew our minds by looking at it through new eyes. God does the transforming and is already at work! Let us look at the world and our call to love our neighbor through His eyes. Let us see hope arise through our brokenness. And remember you are loved beyond measure. 


Until Everyone Hears,

Dr. K





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