Gandalf, the great (but good) wizard in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, remarked to Aragorn in a conversation: “Hope is not victory.” Few seconds later he added: “I am Gandalf, Gandalf the White, but Black is mightier still.” He was alluding to the struggle which the fellowship (the team of hobbits, humans, elves, and dwarves put together to get rid of the Ring of power) still had to undergo in order to defeat Sauron. His reference to hope was to the literal, everyday sense of the word.
The Christian ‘Hope’, however, is an expectation of victory based on accomplished victory. We live with the anticipation that Christ will return to consummate his kingdom and finally remove all that is evel and shameful in our world. This expectation is confident. It is certain. For the price was paid 2,000 years ago.
While the new era has already been launched, it is but an inauguration. The believer thus lives in the tension of the ‘Already but Not-yet’. We have the foretaste of the Spirit. We experience many marvellous blessings and tokens of God’s favour. Yet we don’t have the whole thing. We still fall ill. We still struggle with finances, and some more than others. Sin is something we still fight against. Loved ones still break our hearts. And, yes, we all still die.
Nevertheless, we wait. We wait for our Redeemer. We wait in joy. We wait in faith. We wait in hope – a confident hope.