Hoping against Hope

April 4, 2016


We know the whole story of Easter.  Jesus’ disciples did not.  They lived the loss of Good Friday and the waiting of Holy Saturday, and the experience of Easter without the knowledge that we know so well. We know Jesus’ story did not end with death, but with Resurrection, but they were not privileged to know the whole story as we do now.

At times, I judge the disciples in the Resurrection stories almost rolling my eyes at them as I ask, “How can they be so dense to not believe what is happening right before their eyes?” or  “How do they not see that God prevailed and that Jesus is the promised one they hoped he was?”

But let’s be honest.  I am often like the disciples when it comes to my faith journey.  Rarely, do I know the whole story or what is unfolding in front of me.  Rarely, do I see the possibility of new life in front of me because I am wrapped up in the Good Friday loss or the long waiting of Holy Saturday.  Like the disciples, I miss the signs in front of me that are screaming that Jesus is here and God’s at work.  This is why a vital piece of our faith journey is Jesus’ Resurrection.

Mercy Defined in the Bible:

In the Old Testament, the two words for mercy we see are hesed and rahamim.  The word hesed captures all of the positive attributes of God, including God’s loyal love for us.  The word rahamim is a womb-like love like a mother has for her child.  Rahamim captures God’s desire to birth new life out of any situation.

Then we move to the New Testament, and we see the word Eleos used for mercy, meaning Jesus is mercy himself.  And what does Eleos mean exactly? It means that in the person of Jesus we see the supreme act of God’s mercy that is expressed in deeds.

Resurrection and Mercy: 

Through Jesus, we come to understand God’s loyal love for us, God’s compassion and care.   Jesus shows us that God is willing to birth new life out of any situation, even Jesus’ death on the cross.  The cross is a sign of victory, a sign of good winning in the name of God, a sign of evil and darkness not prevailing.  In Jesus, we have reason to hope against hope as St. Paul tells us in Romans (Rm 4:18).

What does this mean for us? 

No matter what we are facing, God is with us in it.  Jesus’ death and Resurrection let us know the extremes God will go to birth new life out of any situation on our behalf, even sacrificing His own son so the world can know the depth of God’s merciful love for us.

While we may feel like the disciples at times, unable to see the whole story unfolding in our lives, we were given a reason to not despair.  We can hope against hope because Jesus showed us God’s desire to counter-act any human act.  God does the same for us.  No matter what we do or say, and no matter what happened to us or is happening to us, God loves us and will go to any extremes to draw us into a relationship with God.  This is mercy and why mercy matters in our lives.

Want to go deeper?

Moving Ahead: 

Next, we will turn to how God’s mercy endures through us.  Over the next several weeks we will unpack the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and how we can live these out in our lives.

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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